Then vs Now: Employment

A job for life is a phrase many people have heard, but how many people today have actually felt that they’ve entered a profession they can do until they’re ready to retire?

There are certain jobs where security is more opportune than others; teaching, medicine…they’re jobs which you can do until you retire, but will you always do them in the same school? The same hospital/surgery? Maybe not.

A long time ago the world was very different. You left school young, or didn’t go to school at all, and you went out to work. The jobs were menial: factory workers, miners, ship builders. But they were jobs where people could work their way up, learn as they went and they were guaranteed that job for life.

In the same time period, the rich vs poor ‘issue’ was very different. There was a wide gap as there is today, but there was also a responsibility that the rich took on. It was up to them to employ the poor, to give them money to survive.

There’s a town called Saltaire which had a mill, it had terraced houses and it had shops. Workers in the factory were given homes, they were given places to buy food, yes the money for rent and the money given to the shopkeepers only lined the pockets of the rich back up again. But they were responsible for providing these things in the first place. If it wasn’t for people like Saltaire then we wouldn’t have many of the parks that are dotted around towns and cities today. Without these rich people, I dread to think how many people would have lived lives of beggars, homeless with families, with no welfare state to support them.

It was a basic life where there were very few choices, but sometimes I wonder if that was better.

Today we have so many options before we’ve even reached adulthood: do we want to study food technology or design technology? How about media studies? Music? History? Geography? GCSEs are potentially the ‘biggest’ decision you have to make at fourteen. Then within two years you’re deciding whether to carry on in education, do you go to sixth form college or another type of college? Do you study Sociology or Biology? Hairdressing or Health and Social Care?

And if you don’t want to go to college, do you find on the job training, or perhaps just start work? Then there’s the final option: unemployment.

Skip ahead another year and those in sixth form colleges around the country are trying to decide which university course to take, if they even want to go to university in the first place. Their choices may be limited depending on their A levels, or they may have the world open to them. They may come to realise that actually they want to study one thing, but they’ll never have the right grades to do it, or they didn’t take the right courses at A level.

When my grandad was a boy, if people asked him what he was going to do with his life, I imagine his answer would have been ‘go down t’ pit’.

Ask a young lad today what he wants to do with his life…chances are he’s got no idea. There will be the few who do know (my cousin is studying agriculture) and who have known their whole life, there will be some who have an idea about their path, naturally.

But there will be just as many who have no idea. Why?

I believe it’s because there are too many choices.

I hear someone scoff, how can there be such a thing as too many choice? Surely too many is better than only a few?

I’m not so sure.

Have you ever stood in a shop and looked at the different toothpaste options? Colgate alone have about 20 different types from teeth whitening to extra flouride, the world is your oyster. Even going into a little corner shop to choose some chocolate: do you want Cadburys or Galaxy? Nuts, caramel, fruit and nut, turkish delight, a big bar, a small bar, a packet of buttons or Minstrels or Maltesers? Or maybe a bag of crisps? Ready salted, cheese and onion, Flamin’ Hot Monster Munch? I could go on…

I’ve spent many of my years on this planet thinking of different things I want to do in my life, I’ve jumped between the wild and wonderful extremes to the plain and simple. I found a path and I stuck to it…only to realise that even that had many other options along the way and now I’m not even sure it’s something I should continue on at all.

Everywhere I look there are options and yet, there are none at all.

At 25, I’ve missed the boat on choosing a university course I would love to do, if I could go back and do university again, I’d be in Bristol studying English or Creative Writing (or a mixture of the two). Instead, I’ve stuck in Bolton with a degree that is virtually useless in a world where the voluntary sector is being wrung dry of money and paid positions.

And as for jobs, well, whenever I do a job search I find managerial positions, I find apprenticeships (for those 16-24 years old) and I find opportunities for everyone but myself.

Without turning this into an ‘I have no choices’ rant, let’s refocus.

Had I been born a hundred years earlier I’d have a couple of choices and I’d probably follow my parents and get a job in some factory somewhere. My grandmother worked in a factory, ended up working in the office which was quite a progression I believe. My mum would have followed that path (at least into the factory) and me and my sister would have too. Maybe we wouldn’t be rich, but we’d be happy enough.

Today people are battling depression, boredom, losing focus, all because of unemployment and a lack of ‘opportunities’, something which really should make us all laugh. Lack of opportunities? In this modern world where opportunities are coming out of our ears? Yes, lack of opportunities that suit each individual.

Once upon a time we fitted the opportunities out there and now the opportunities need to fit us or we struggle to find something to do.

That’s not to say that I’d rather have a menial job I care little for, I don’t. I’d want something to feel passionate about, something I enjoy, something to wake up in the morning and think ‘YES, I’m ready for the day’.

Maybe that’s the problem. We’ve gone away from having a job to keep us alive, to buy us food and put a roof over our heads, to a job that makes us happy. I’m not saying that’s bad, on the contrary, it’s brilliant that we can do things we love. If searching that path makes us more miserable? I’m not sure it’s entirely worth it.

But in a world full of options, who can really be sure if the choices they make will be the right choices in five, ten, fifteen years time?

*** After the recent blog posts about how much the world has changed, in the middle of being unable to sleep last night, my brain decided that I wanted to write about employment now and then. So here I bring to you the Then vs Now series. What comes next? Nobody knows, but I’m sure I’ll have fun with it. Unless it keeps me awake in the middle of the night again…

The price of greatness is responsibility.

My last blog, in response to lilmisskaty’s, was about how much things have changed over the last century.

But with greatness, responsibility sits beside it vying for attention. Something which I believe has been lost, to an extent.

With new inventions and progression we have created electric can openers, drive thrus, sat nav and the like. Fantastic inventions designed to make life easier.

But with making life easier comes the inevitable; laziness.

How many of these companies who invent ‘amazing’, ‘innovative’ products realise that they’re contributing to the laziness of others?

Automatic vaccum cleaners, you don’t need to push, you don’t need to move, you don’t even need to stand up. Instead you can carry on with whatever task you were doing before, whilst the floor is being vaccumed beneath your feet.

Drive thru ATMs and Starbucks are few and far between in the UK, but they do exist and well, they mean you don’t even need to get out of your car to do basic tasks that people do every single day.

Internet shopping has become both a slice of brilliance in life and also a massive hindrance for the high street and small businesses. We all like a good deal, 99p (or 99c) books on Amazon, eBay, it’s all so useful. We can sell our old items, we can buy new items, we can buy second hand items. Whatever you need, you can find it online. You can’t even find everything you need in a town centre anymore, yet on the internet, there it is. You don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home and you can buy things through your mobile internet on the go. You don’t even need to go to your shopping basket on some websites anymore, you can merely click ‘one-click payment’ and the money is taken from your bank.

eBooks and game downloads work in the same way, if you own a Kindle then you just have to click buy now and the book is there for you to read. No longer do you even need to wait for a physical book or game to arrive on your doorstep.

Microwave meals are quick and easy, you don’t need to spend twenty minutes chopping up vegetables and cooking meat, you merely put a plastic, frozen container into a metal box and press start. A few minutes later, the food is there waiting for you to eat it.

In a time where obesity is a real problem, growing waistlines and inactivity, why are we so adamant that we need more and more products designed to make life ‘easier’?

Isn’t the opposite happening? These easier options are making life harder for those who no longer go outside to play tennis (opting instead for the Wii sports game and so getting less physical exercise), for families who are all considered obese (thanks to fast food and microwave meals, over home cooked, healthy options) and even cars themselves have become nothing more than transportation from A to B, even if A to B is a ten minute walk away.

Don’t get me wrong, I love many technological advances. I live and breathe computers, iPads and Twitter for mobile. That doesn’t mean that I don’t understand the other side of the coin, the flip side to the greatest inventions the world has ever seen.

The fact sat navs exist is fantastic, but at what expense? Some people have no idea how to use a map or have no sense of direction because they rely heavily on that little box with the annoying voice.

Supermarket deliveries are great if you’re ordering for sixty people (which happened to me over the summer), but for the family of four, it means that families aren’t getting that exercise of walking around the supermarket, children don’t get the chance to learn how to navigate around a large store and you don’t get to have a natter with an old friend/acquaintance as you bump into each other in aisle four.

Companies aren’t being held responsible for their actions, instead we are accepting more and more items designed for laziness. We want the latest technologies as soon as they come out and we’re not willing to wait to purchase them, pre-ordering helps with that. Nor do we even need to go to the bank to check that we can afford them, just hop online, transfer money between accounts and bam, the item will be with you in 3-5 working days.

I hope that one day the world will take a step backwards, embrace new technology, but enjoy them on the side of physical activities and getting out of the house. Otherwise, we might as we live in a pod with internet, television and fast food that appears whenever we feel hungry. Or those chairs in Wall-E where people who are overweight and obese merely press a button and they’re served all that they desire.

Title is a quote from Winston Churchill.

The Little Dull Bird

A poem.

The Little Dull Bird

The bright birds flutter around,
The little dull bird down on the ground.
No one sees her faded feathers,
But does she wants them to?

The bright birds float and glide overhead,
The little dull bird lays in her bed.
She doesn’t want a show, or a tell,
But does she secretly want it?

The bright birds fly high in the night,
The little dull bird stays low in flight.
They look down on her and laugh out loud,
She doesn’t care, or does she?

The bright birds are admired by all,
The little dull bird is an invisible ball.
But everyone wants their glorified days,
Even the little dull bird in many ways.

But the bright birds have taken all the glory,
The little dull bird lives half a story.
Without a feeling she deserves a dream,
She continues to live life, a dull bird, unseen.

The future is out there but the past is to be celebrated!

Having read the most recent blog of Lilmisskaty I decided that as well as leave her a comment (as soon as I finish this) I would write my own blog piece to befriend her own.

Not least because the subject of her blog is rather interesting but also because I touched upon such a subject just this week when talking to my dad.

I was sat in the front room (aka lounge, sitting room, family room, etc.) watching Mrs Biggs (which is a great programme, starring the beautiful and talented Sheridan Smith as Mrs Biggs). It’s the story of Ronnie Biggs who stole a lot of money and as good as got away with it. This all happened in the sixties, not long after my parents were born as a matter of fact.

Ronnie and his wife were driving along a road in the middle of Australia and I commented on their lack of wearing seatbelts, apparently that’s because they hadn’t been invented yet. (Though my curiosity was more about a deserted road and went on for miles and whether seatbelts are really needed in places like that.)

Anyway, I digress, my point being that a lot has happened in the last century as Katy said in her own blog post. Something which a lot of people forget about, I think. More than that, this world has existed for millions and millions of years, we’ve had many wars, countries have been invaded and defended, stolen and recaptured. Dinosaurs walked the Earth and died out, other species of animals have come and gone in our lifetime and some before our lifetime.

Humans haven’t been around for all that long in the grand scheme of the world, but in the thousands of years that we have existed on this planet…why has the most progression happened in the last century?

People have traced their families back generations to remote farms in the middle of the country, to work houses and poverty, to manor houses and wealth.

It’s no secret that there used to be a hierarchy to society, the rich we’re at the top and the poor we’re there to serve them. Like in the world of Downton Abbey (mentioned in Katy’s blog) and Titanic and other such fictional and non-fictional accounts of our history, the rich we’re once the only people who really got an education and the poor we’re left to fend for themselves.

Jump forward hundreds or thousands of years and the world is a very different place, no longer is Australia “on the other side of the world”, because the other side of the world is just ONE DAY away in a plane. It takes nearly TWO days to travel by car from the top of Australia to the bottom (Darwin to Adelaide) and yet we can hop on a plane to Australia and back in a similar around of time. Alternatively, you could probably fly all the way around the world and back to the start in the same time.

My point being that not only have people come and gone who have seen things far greater than we, who have lived through so much change, these people have also witnessed the world shrinking. Not physically, but by increased speed, and as Katy said, access to technology such as computers.

The fact that I can write this in my iPad in a coffee shop in Bolton town centre and someone “all that way” across the world in Australia, America, etc. can read what I’ve said is nothing short of a miracle.

We don’t consider it as such, but if you we’re to bring someone back from the 1800s and handed them a mobile phone or a computer, they would not only have no idea what to do with it, but they’d also find it rather absurd. Perhaps they would believe it was the work of the devil, or a miracle brought by a God that they believe in.

And how many of us take it for granted?

The world is full of such unusual things, and time has certainly been kind to technology (though not our purses!) and sometimes I think we need to remember how lucky we are.

We argue about whether the MMR vaccine is safe and yet once upon a time people died frequently of the diseases we can now protect against. We are constantly told to eat healthier and to avoid fatty foods where when our grandparents were young they probably had the bare minimum but it was enough to keep them relatively healthy. But in a world where we are considered rich, even if we don’t get enough to eat, we should be thankful for the things that keep us alive, for the progressions made in our ability to communicate and the fact that we can move halfway across the world and yet still see our family and friends face to face.

Do Something Different

There are many phrases that people use regularly to suggest that we should do something different/exciting/that we’ve never done before with our lives; you only live once, live your life to the fullest, etc.

 

But how often do we do that? Some more than others, if you’re lilmisskaty then you’re always off gallivanting around the country going to festivals and events.

 

I, on the other hand, don’t often do something new.

 

This week has been quite an experience for me, though for some it may seem mundane and not very interesting or different.

 

On Friday night I worked in a bar of a restaurant. I’ve never had much desire to work behind a bar, though I did put on my list of 100 things to do before I die to learn to pull a pint. I’ve now completed this aim in life. It all came about rather randomly; we visited the restaurant in July for my mother’s birthday. On their menus they said that if you followed them and sent them a tweet you would get a free plate of garlic bread. So it’s because of this that I found myself perusing Twitter when the boss of the restaurant tweeted that they were looking for bar staff. I responded, rather bluntly informing them that I have no experience but need a job. Two days later and I was behind the bar learning to pull pints and chatting with the waitresses.

 

At present I don’t know if I’ve got a job with them as it was a trial shift, unfortunately the boss has been in hospital so hasn’t been able to contact me before now. I’m not in any rush, nor would I be too disappointed if they didn’t offer me a position.

 

It was an experience and that’s the main thing, I did something different, I took a risk and it paid off. It may seem small to some, but to me, it’s quite a big thing to do.
How about you, have you done something different this week?