Apparently, most young people want to work in art, culture, entertainment and sport, and there are nowhere near enough jobs in these fields to support them. The story recommends reprogramming children from a very young age, implanting ideas for socially-viable jobs into their tiny, malleable minds, before they watch their first episode of Britain’s Got Talent and all is lost.
As someone who has worked extensively in art, culture and entertainment, it is quite obvious that young people have very little sense of what it would be like to work in these fields. They are comparing other people’s outsides to their insides. In reality, life in the glamour jobs is very much like life in every other field: dogs-bodyish at first, then eventually stressful and/or rewarding, and ultimately almost guaranteed to leave you wracked with self-doubt and wondering if you ever made any right choices. If you’re lucky, you’ll get some money out of it, but nowhere near as much as you would if you went into hard business, finance, management, etc.
But is the answer to simply revise young people’s dreams into something more profitable for our country’s economy? To gently guide them away from their sparkling toys, remove the fairy wings and try to stimulate an interest in spreadsheets? What do kids owe this messed-up world, anyway? They didn’t, to coin a phrase, ask to be born.
The problem with dreams
Regular readers will know that I struggle with the idea of dreams. I think waking dreams are much like sleep dreams – they’re a bit of fun and can be revealing in the abstract, but they’re not to be taken literally. Yet… they hold truth. Transferrable skills is the boring word for it, I suppose. A child with an X Factor-inspired ‘dream’ to be a pop star could harness the drive to achieve the apparently impossible and strive to become one of the world’s very few female economists, capitalising on her love of the stage to speak powerfully and share ideas, ultimately inspiring others and saving us all. I said ‘could’. Let’s keep the faith.
We are heading into a world where we may get much less choice about what we ‘do’. The link between what we do and who we are is weakening. It seems likely, as our planet continues to perish, that jobs will increasingly be about dealing with shortages: of space, of resources, perhaps of hope. Not only that, but jobs will lose their boundary lines — it’s already happening. It won’t make sense, for example, to talk of being a performer or being a web designer or being an SEO expert, you’ll have to be all three. Expertise will be important, but it will have to be founded in a drive to change things (and a belief that things can be changed). So, if it doesn’t look like the grown-ups really care about changing things, why not become a pop star instead? At least when you’re there you can use your platform to raise a few quid for the koalas.
The world is burning. What are you doing about it?