cutting the strings

Lots of things prevent young people from working. Lack of experience and confidence can certainly be a hurdle in getting an interview. Mostly though what stops young people from working is the fact that there aren’t enough jobs.


Not according to Tanith Dodge, HR Director for Marks and Spencer, though.  She says the reason young people don’t have jobs is that they’re just too comfy on those cushy benefits to be arsed going to work.

“They live in a community where when they go back at the end of the day it [work] is frowned upon,” Ms Dodge told a Lords inquiry into youth unemployment.

“When we talk to some of these young people, their biggest barriers are the first few weeks when they go back to an environment where nobody works.”

She described Britain’s welfare system as acting like “treacle” by making a life without work too attractive.

Too attractive. That’s right, a Director of HR at Marks and Spencer says living on benefits is an attractive option, folks.

She said the retail giant was increasingly finding young people joining its Make Your Mark apprenticeship scheme were from families who had been jobless for generations.

Really? Generations? That sounds a lot like the claims Iain Duncan Smith made for the Centre For Social Justice in 2009 about ‘troubled families’, commenting on housing poverty:

“Life expectancy on some estates, where often three generations of the same family have never worked, is lower than the Gaza Strip”.

Indeed, the coalition government has used this assumption to form policy, as a stick to beat the unemployed with. But it’s completely made up. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation carried out an extensive study to find these families where three generations have never worked, and do you know what, they don’t exist. (

Researchers in deprived neighbourhoods in Glasgow and Middlesbrough found that worklessness was not the result of a culture of worklessness, held in families and passed down the generations.

It found that:

  • Even two generations of complete worklessness in the same family was very rare.
  • There was no evidence of ‘a culture of worklessness’ – values, attitudes and behaviours discouraging employment and encouraging welfare dependency – in the families taking part in the research.
  • Working-age offspring remained strongly committed to conventional values about work and were keen to avoid the poverty and worklessness experienced by their parents.

So I wonder why the HR Director of Marks and Spencer would be using this heavily loaded language of young people coming from a background of generations of lazy workshy benefits claimants? Could it possibly be that Marks and Spencer have a vested interest? You got it. M&S are involved in Workfare or work-for-your-benefits schemes, where they get a young person to work for them for free.

I don’t suppose they’d have very many free employees queuing up to work for them if there wasn’t an accepted culture that young people and indeed the unemployed in general are lazy, over-comfortable and pretty much need a good poking with a stick. Young people are unwilling to ‘cut the umbilical cord’ translates as ‘young people would prefer us to pay them a wage to work for us but we’re not really into doing that’.


About furcoatnaenicks

Rants. Sporadically.
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