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Don’t scapegoat young people

Bosses too often want to shift the blame for their own failings to school leavers

Employers turn to immigrants when they want to fill vacancies, concludes the professional body for personnel managers following months of research.

Employers say literacy, numeracy and a better aptitude for dealing with customers are the key reasons for importing labour from overseas.

It sounds implausible. The rise of the London-based Chinese professional has less to do with an ability to write coherent sentences or conduct more sophisticated conversations – than their UK counterparts – than a willingness to apply their training, work all hours and submit to Victorian management practices.

Bosses too often want to shift the blame for their own failings on to young people. Poor management is endemic in many British companies, where it is rarely regarded as a serious skill. And that is despite the thousands of hours spent each year on management training sessions.

It is far easier to scapegoat young people, dodge new restrictions on Chinese workers by hiring EU-based equivalents while simultaneously endorsing education secretary Michael Gove’s Latin lessons cure-all.

Jill McDonald, the UK boss of restaurant chain McDonald’s, famously said she found British 16- to 18-year-olds more than capable of adding up, writing reports and serving customers. Many of them are now senior managers. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds