'I am embarrassed to look at British kids.' That's the latest controversial comment from Jamie Oliver. According to the TV chef, the younger generation are wet when it comes to work — unwilling to put in the hours or accept low pay.
'Physical graft and grunt is something this generation is struggling with,' he says. The comment has prompted a debate about whether today’s unemployed youngsters are just not prepared to take what's on offer, rather than victims of the recession.
A YouGov poll reported in The Sunday Times found that 65 per cent of people agreed with Oliver’s comments. There’s no doubt that in today’s climate, with more applicants chasing fewer jobs, unpaid work experience is as, if not more, important than qualifications in many professions. I’m not against work experience per se. Starting at the bottom of the ladder — making cups of tea, photocopying, sorting the post, making another cup of tea — is important, not only to prove that you are prepared to work hard, but to help you appreciate your role when you do eventually get a 'real' job.
Then again, when I was doing placement after placement in London, I was lucky enough to have an aunt living in the area, who to let me stay with her in return for a few nights’ babysitting. What about those who can't afford to stay where the jobs are? It isn’t always laziness or unwillingness that stops young people taking low-paid or unpaid jobs.