Two things I said on Twitter got me thinking.
Before anyone says that some teens need work to support themselves or contribute to the family income, I know that happens. I started my working life at fifteen, just two years after my dad (the family bread-winner) died, and it was just me and my mom. We had some very hard times, but we got through it. Three years later, my same job in fast food gave me a five hundred dollar scholarship. It was a lot of money for a kid with not much and a degree to pay for. I am very grateful.
What prompted me to make the above tweets is an ongoing trend of teens coming into the shop where I work, dressed in street clothes (the nice ones that come from Top Shop, etc.), typically accompanied by one or more friends, often without CV/résumés, and oblivious to the news that my workplace is cutting staff nation wide. I have never said where I work here, and I won’t now, but the major newspapers and several trade publications have covered the news of our upcoming redundancies. Only three of the dozen or so people employed at my shop are safe from the job cuts. I am not one of them. I’m not particularly concerned yet as it does no good to worry about something I have so little control over, so I go to work and do the best job I can and hope for the best.
The fact that many of us have rent, mortgages, utility bills, etc. to pay for is a real concern. When I was fifteen, I didn’t have a mobile phone and yet most of today’s teens could scarcely imagine a life without one. The fact is, a mobile phone is not a necessity. Groceries are. I know that there are teens in difficult situations who need to house themselves or raise a child, but I am certain they are not the ones who look for a job unprepared. To look for work is serious and I don’t see nearly enough teens looking for it – at the shop I work in – with any seriousness at all. Even for a greasy job in a roast beef fast food restaurant, I dressed in nice clothes and went alone to seek the work. Showing a respectful desire to join the workforce seems to be a dying practise.
My above Twitter comments started a good conversation between myself and a friend who started work at fifteen to support herself. She is not who I see coming into the shop. I may be making assumptions about the ones who do come in, but I’ve also been the kid who needed a job and I just don’t see the same attitude in the teens who ask for job vacancies now. Is this the difference twenty years makes or perhaps a more serious problem with a percentage of the upcoming workforce?
Also, is this the same in the US, or more of a UK example?