October 17, 2013

Britain's hereditocracy, Ctd Carola Binney

Carola Binney, a first year history student at some school at Oxford is a house writer at both the Spectator and The Telegraph. She made an interesting observation here on the role of privilege, proximity, provenance and patronage when it comes to young people finding work experience and a career. I should also note that at the age of, I presume 18, Carola has already enjoyed 6 work placements. Anyways, she gave a little background first and underlined the importance of work experience:
"In June, my friends and I left school. With the final trill of the four o’clock bell came the realisation that in three short years we’re going to have to start looking for jobs, and it’s not going to be easy. As it slowly dawns on my contemporaries that “Certificate of participation in the Year 6 swimming gala” isn’t going to get you on to the Goldman Sachs graduate scheme, everyone is duly trudging off to marketing firms, accountants and hospitals in the hope of making their CVs slightly less resemble Ed Miliband’s policy agenda."
Carola then explained how her milieu tend to acquire and come about work experience:

"Nine times out of 10, they’re off to meet someone their parents know. Alice, a schoolfriend, recently spent a week shadowing a barrister, which she arranged through distant family connections. “I never just wrote to someone out of the blue”, she said, “because I didn’t think anything would come of it if I didn’t have some link to them. If you don’t have the right connections or the right parents, you can’t get anything good.” Daisy was similarly put off from applying for her ideal placements by being told that “TV is one of the hardest professions to get work experience in if you don’t have contacts on the inside”. A common theme among the comments underneath my piece from Friday’s paper was “Whose niece is she?”"
She adds some thoughts:

"The idea that who you know determines where you go is widespread among students, parents and teachers. It’s a deeply harmful misconception, and a self-fulfilling prophecy. My friends are lucky; for most teenagers, asking a barrister acquaintance if you can spend a week at their chambers isn’t on the cards. Work experience should be a mainstay of social mobility, which inspires bright students, helps them get their foot in a future employer’s door and nurturers aspiration. As it is, constant chants of “Nepotism!” have convinced far too many young people that there’s no point in even trying."
Finally, Carola explains that work-experience and opportunity needs to be open for all. She said:
"Work experience is too important to be the preserve of those with good connections, so students need to be encouraged to look beyond their parents’ social circle. Now that unpaid internships are becoming unacceptable, it’s the assumption of nepotism that is the single greatest barrier to ensuring all students have an equal chance of securing an impressive placement. This is symptomatic of a culture of low expectations, and deters young people from seeing where their merit will take them. We must be more optimistic."

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