Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Careers Advice Is Bullshit

Last night I went for a drink with an old friend and we got talking about our careers advise at school. We both were told to fill in a series of questions on a computer programme called Kudos and Kudos would tell us what we should do every day for the next 50 years or so. My (male) friend's came up 'midwife' and mine came up 'road safety officer'. At the time I had already been hit by a car once and over the next 5 years I would be hit two more times. I'm not lying. Careers advice is bullshit. Kudos asked people if they were afraid of heights and if they liked being outside. Almost everyone who gave the appropriate answers was told to be a TV ariel installer. Clearly Kudos didn't see digital TV coming. My home town's job centre is populated by 30 year old former TV ariel installers cursing Kudos. 

A shitty computer programme is easy to dismiss but face to face careers advice is far more dangerous. As a child my brother was obsessed with insects. He had a subscription to a magazine called Bugs and knew as much as an eleven year old could possibly know about them. He was also a very good student. When he had his careers session he told his adviser of his interest and stated that he hoped to go to university and become an entomologist (insect boffin). My smart, determined brother was told that he should work in pest control for the council. That is genuinely appalling. My brother's dreams were shattered and he lost confidence in his entomology ambitions. Perhaps he shouldn't have been so easily deterred but when your interested in such a specific field and you live in a town where very few people go to university it's not difficult to get thrown off track.

The town I speak of is Braintree in Essex. Just to give you an idea of the kind of place I'm talking about the local band was called 'Hot Ice' and the nightclub was called 'H20'. I lived there from the ages of 13 to 18 and for the most part I hated it. Towns like Braintree are incredible ambition sappers. Ten maybe fifteen people from my year of about 150 went onto mediocre university. About five years ago I met some of the people I used to hang out with at my previous school in Newcastle and they'd nearly all gone to Oxbridge. I'm not saying that everyone should go on and study PHDs but it's nice to know that if you're bright and hard working enough you can do anything. Living in a town like Newcastle bright kids can see a future. Living in a town like Braintree means you need a lot more drive and belief to get where you want to be unless it's pest control.

So why do careers advisors give such shit advice? Because they hate their own shit jobs that's why. What they are essentially saying to every child is 'Listen. We've all got fucking dreams but that's what scratch cards are for. Do you think I wanted to be doing this shit? Course not. That's life. Get over it and do you work experience at the fucking council.' 

I'm getting wound up now. More on this tomorrow. The chip on my shoulder is turning into a jacket potato. 

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