32 2 mins 11 yrs

The question is; Do you agree that firms should be paid to take on poorly-qualified British teenagers instead of older or migrant workers?

John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the Government should consider offering firms £1,500 subsidies for each young Briton they employ to limit the effects of youth unemployment. He was speaking days after figures showed that around 500 foreigners landed a job in Britain every day over the past year while the number of UK-born workers plunged.

I don’t really agree with this proposition. It’s perfectly reasonable to seek to maximise the employment of British people BUT no firm should be expected to take on a lesser qualified employee purely on the grounds of National ID. I am a meritocrat and reckon that the best qualified person with the best potential should get the job. If we abandon this by encouraging employers to choose a poorly  and evidently sub-optimal candidate just because of their passport then we weaken our economy.

The best solution is to focus on WHY we have so many poorly qualified young people- given the huge salaries lavished on the teaching profession. Each year we are told that students are getting smarter and smarter, with more and more gaining top grades. And yet there is a serious disconnect in play here and I fear we are in danger of compounding the issue by providing an answer to the wrong question.

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  1. David,
    I take a newspaper every Saturday, for the tv programmes, and it is the Daily Mail –
    (cue gasps of horror and scorn and “Aaah, that explains it!”..)
    Anyway Saturday’s issue had what I thought was an excellent article by A N Wilson entitled “Death of the Working Class.” He states 3 main reasons for this;

    1)The wrecking of our Education system during the ’60s and’70s

    2)The dismantling of our manufacturing and industrial base in the ’80s and the move to a service based economy (although I would argue that was a direct result of bloody minded and short- sighted union leaders, engaged in their traditional class warfare with “the management.”)

    3)The Welfare State and its part in the gradual erosion of the work ethic.

    You may have read it, but if not, it’s well worth a read.
    Personally I agree that the jobs should go to those with the right attitudes and abilities; but this only highlights the total failure and incompetence of our politicians over the years. To have produced a situation where our own native born citizens are unemployable so that you actually have to import

  2. youngsters and professionals to do the work, is almost beyond belief.

    (I pushed the submit button too soon – silly old buffer!)

  3. From afar, i think that the union militancy in the sixties and seventies did incalculable damage to your industry, and probably to your workforce’s attitudes.

    All modern industrial activity takes as a given a huge degree of trust.

    Would you want to buy anything made by a militant workforce? Or would ever want to hire such a workforce?

    They have zero value. As did certain bad management in many companies.

    Better a German or Chinese who likes to work hard and make nice things than someone with any kind of chip on his shoulder. The world has moved on.

  4. I would personally put it the other way round. Union militancy didn’t cause the decline of British Industry. The decline of British Industry caused Union militancy. As major employers started to decline with the collapse of the British Empire and the post war boom ordinary workers started to lose jobs, wages and have their terms scaled back. The result was increased Union militancy.

  5. Seamus,
    we might be embarking on one of those circular arguments that disturb Mahons..

    I have heard it argued as you say, that once Great Britain initiated the Industrial Revolution it would change the world.
    That for the “best results” the process would move to where the cheapest and most reliable labour force could be found, and with good transport links too.

    So, as conditions and pay improved it resulted in higher priced goods for export, encouraging production elsewhere.
    I can understand that, but it seems to me the process remains the same; it is the attitude of the national workforces that determine whether or not their economy remains adaptive and competitive.
    How else to explain Germany for example??

  6. Germany is different in many different ways, not just due to the nature of its workers. The nature of its employers and government differ significantly as well. There is a greater sense of ownership and pride amongst German companies. German workers working for BMW, Siemens, Daimler etc feel a sense of ownership of those industries, even if they don’t actually have any sort of ownerships. There is a major social market and there is a sense in Germany that the people are taking care of. In the UK its all “What can I get out if it? … What’s in it for me?” type attitudes that govern business. The natural trend is that the workers will develop the same attitude.

  7. Seamus 740

    Bogus claptrap

    I remember a few decades ago reading in Time Magazine about British auto workers sabotaging their own product and of them demanding the right to take naps during the work day.

    It is actions like this that repelled any and all customers and any and all employers. These guys were employed – they absolutely destroyed their own jobs.

    Some of this went on in the US ( vandalism at the GM plants in Ohio ) but the British guys brought it to another level.

    And that is why auto manufacturing never left Germany even though costs are higher and that is why people will ask if a car is made in Japan as opposed to some other place where Toyota may have a plant.

    The British managements of the time would most likely bear huge blame but there is no amount of stupid or bad management that would cause the Germans or Japanese to act this way.

    I know lots of people who hate the management but who take enormous pride in the work that they and their coworkers do. You either have pride in what you do or you do not. And that applies no matter how skilled or not your work may be.

  8. There was a similar article in the Times over the weekend about how for different reasosn both in the skilled and unskilled markets, employers increasingly choose foreign staff. Firstly because there is a significant shortage of properly skilled and trained Britons in many technical areas, and also because too many Britons will not or do not have the attitude and aptitude to do service jobs. One article I read spoke of a employment agency that selects workers to do cleaning and ancillary jobs mainly for a very large hospital close to a large housing estate with high unemployment. The manageress of the agency said that local unemplyed people never joined her agency it was virtually all foreign staff who signed up and indeed she always had work available for everyone who joined. Local natives would not join because they do not intend to give up their benefits to work in hospital jobs and there is no requirement on them to do so.

    Yes I know those jobs are not desirable and nobody really would want to do them but why on earth should healthy able bodied Britons be entitled to receive benefits when these vacancies are available to them. I can’t see why the DSS doesn’t insist that all able bodied unemployed people sign up with these agencies and accept work they are capable of doing and only pay them benefits when there is genuinely no work available.

  9. I just came back from a short trip in the Washington DC area

    Some of the locals there think that they are too good to be maids or do checkin at hotels which is why all those jobs I saw looked to be filled by South American or other immigrants.

    Some of the ” unemployed ” are completely unemployable, a truth many won’t admit.

    But if there is an incentive to sit at home and watch Jerry Springer for the rest of your life, that incentive should be changed.

  10. Seamus,
    You seem to be laying the blame at the feet of the management and the employers?
    I would agree with Phantom that the bolshie, lazy self destructive actions of a class obsessed workforce helped to destroy the car and shipbuilding industries in our country.
    Take the Mini; an iconic motor car desperately in need of a makeover. But it took the Germans to take it on and ensure it continued to be a best seller..

  11. Didn’t shipbuilding suffer from jet airlines? The need for passenger vessels certainly must have declined by at least the 1950s and 1960s.

    No doubt there are and were excesses in union demands that effected industry but I am not sure that is correct to lay the decline totally at their feet.

  12. Gentlemen –

    It’s that time again, the one where I step in and educate.

    The ‘decline’ (which is nowhere near as bad as some make out) of British post-war manufacturing is not due solely to the unions, management or government, though the three each bears great responsibility. If you’re looking for a culprit then blame them all and blame everyone who accepted the Keynesian/socialist post-war consensus.

    By the 1970s this had delivered stagflation (something Keynesians had said is impossible). Powerful unions, many led by men in the pay of Moscow, demanded outrageous pay awards – to combat price inflation – or would strike, but it was not unions alone which created these conditions.

    You can ‘blame’ also the opening up of Britain to Japanese car imports. Some might remember when Nissans and Datsuns began to appear on the roads in place of communist built cars from Birmingham. In short order, the British driver realised that a car wasn’t something that fell apart the moment it rolled off the production line.

    I’ll remind people again that Germany, despite suffering something of a manufacturing decline itself, has a much higher savings rate than comparable countries and, as we know, it is saved capital which is the very kindling of economic growth.

    If we want any kind of economic revival, we must have savings.

  13. The German unions/management/government have generally worked together more and the workers and management take more pride in the final product.

    I think that it has very little to do with Keynes or socialism or any ism.

    Customers all over the world pay more for a German product, and are happy to do so. The German car is never the cheapest one. But it will often be the one with the most value.

    The Germans have a proud auto industry because they’ve always been proud to make cars.

  14. Pete,
    you fail to convince!
    What successive post-war governments did (until Margaret Thatcher), was to pour more money into failing state backed industries; but not as real investment of modernisation of plant and machinery.
    They were simply appeasing unions and ridiculous demarcartion disputes amongst trades.
    You are right about the influence of communist union leaders, but the whole sytuggle was based around a “them and us class dispute.”
    Unique to the United Kingdom.
    Why do you think we successfully build Nissans here for example? Despite the generous government incentives, the cars are well built and in demand. Why? Because Nissan isn’t a British company, so no grounds exist for workforce disharmony…

  15. PS
    I found this site
    very interesting reading!


    Just a snippet here,
    “….My dad worked at BL, and he bought a brand new Austin maxi 1800 – the first time I wound the rear window down, the handle fell off in my hand and we heard the whole mechanism fall to the bottom of the door panel. I got a good hiding for that, for having the audacity to want the window open!

    I also remember my dad, more often than not, being at home, due to strikes/power cuts etc – pity they didn’t put as much energy (this applies to the management too) into producing British products that weren’t an absolute joke.”

  16. Agit8ed –

    you’re agreeing with me. Yes, post-war governments poured gargantuan amounts of into the black holes of communist British unindustry, and result was rampant price inflation.

    Margaret Thatcher didn’t get everything right, but under the tutelage of the Institute of Economic Affairs she turned off the money tap, the resultant early 80s recession wrung out the economic imbalances and inflation was brought down.

    Strange thing, that snippet. My first motor was a Maxi 1800 and mine too had a detachable handle for winding down the window.

    It also had no suspension anywhere on the right, so I leaned at 45 degrees when sitting in it. Also the carburretter was crocked, so the engine cut out whenever I went round a bend unless I pulled out the choke.

    Top speed, 65 mph and not many bits fell of when I did it.

  17. Hoorah for being back on air!
    “you’re agreeing with me.”

    My new policy is never to agree with you as a matter of principle; despite your undoubted intellectual and educational advantages..
    A man who can’t apologise when he’s manifestly wrong, will never get my vote when he stands for parliament!

  18. and result was rampant price inflation.

    Yet German cars were always I imagine more expensive than most British cars ( except for Rolls Royce, which doesn’t really count ) and the world beat a path to the door of BMW / Opel / Mercedes / Volksawagen / Audi / Porsche nonetheless.

    Quality trumps price. It had nothing to do with state this or money that. It had to do with the fact that your workers and management produced a bad product and that the Germans and Japanese did not.

  19. “Strange thing, that snippet. My first motor was a Maxi 1800 and mine too had a detachable handle for winding down the window.

    It also had no suspension anywhere on the right, so I leaned at 45 degrees when sitting in it. Also the carburretter was crocked, so the engine cut out whenever I went round a bend unless I pulled out the choke.

    Top speed, 65 mph and not many bits fell of when I did it.”

    You can’t be much younger than me then, you old fraud.

  20. Phantom –

    Market share of German cars in the UK during the 1970s was nowhere near what it is now, partly bcause of price. VW with the Golf was the first German mass market car here.

    Agited –

    The Maxi was on its last legs when it was given to me in 1987.

  21. “The Maxi was on its last legs when it was given to me in 1987.”

    Sounds like you are too! Pull the other one you old geezer. 😉

  22. Pete

    But I’m not just talking about the UK market.

    German cars, and other cars like Volvos, have always had a market in the US / world despite the fact that they’re never the lowest price. Folks buy them because they’re good cars.

    In the case of Volvo, the cars from a country that has always been a lot more ” socialist ” than the US is/was.

    If you make the best product, you’re not captive to price. It is only one factor. The many things that would go into one’s definition of ” quality ” can be more important.

    A recent example-

    As you know, I recently bought an Ipad. Including everything, including the fancy cover, it cost over $600.

    My buddy in London saved money and bought the Blackberry tablet which was less than half the price.

    He hates his tablet, and I love mine. Who got the best deal?

  23. Phantom,
    “He hates his tablet, and I love mine. Who got the best deal?”

    The canny retailer who bought a consignment of “slight seconds” at $400 apiece, and persuaded a certain “Phantom” it was an absolute steal at $600+…

    you can buy a version of the latest Ipad for £225 in the East End of London…

    When did you say you’re coming over?
    I’ll look out some more high tech bargains for you at knock down prices.
    Bring a bigger suitcase… 😉

  24. Phantom –

    Yes, I agree about quality. I’ve remarked recently on the quality of German motors. My 10.00pm above notes how the importation of Japanese cars opened the eyes of British drivers to quality.

    My remark on inflation is in relation to the British economy generally by the 1970s, industrial decline and relations.

    By the 1970s, mass walkouts and strikes was known through Europe as ‘the British disease’. One reason for the strikes was inflation, the pretext for ever more outrageous wage demands, when when met was the fuel for more inflation.

  25. “Strange thing, that snippet. My first motor was a Maxi 1800 and mine too had a detachable handle for winding down the window.

    It also had no suspension anywhere on the right, so I leaned at 45 degrees when sitting in it. Also the carburretter was crocked, so the engine cut out whenever I went round a bend unless I pulled out the choke.

    Top speed, 65 mph and not many bits fell of when I did it.”

    Simple fix. The hydragas suspension needed pumping up on one side (leak?). Or maybe a new bulb as well. Good system for comfort …lousy for spirited driving.
    Carburrettor…maybe a sticky float valve…some simple tinkering would have fixed that.

    Mind you with Japanese car as I recall you just drove it because it just worked.
    And who was the genius that thought a squared off steering wheel on the Allegro was a good idea? The Morris Marina…then Ital. A heap of rubbish…that BL expected you to pay heavily for AND in the early 70’s there was a six month waiting list.
    If thats the best Britain could do it DESERVED to fail.

    It’s typical of what you get when you featherbed an industry. Protectionism. If market forces had been allowed to work then BL would have had to do much better or fold. in the end it folded anyway.

    BTW – google Red Robbo…there’s another good reason why BL died.

  26. Agit8ed

    you can buy a version of the latest Ipad for £225 in the East End of London…
    I doubt that.

    I’m seeing the market price of a new Ipad2 in Britain as £399 ( the magic cover is extra )

    But even if a new Ipad could be had for 299 GBP that would be about $467 US which is right there with my $499 base price ( tax and magic cover was extra )

    When I shopped, I was amazed that the price of a used item was nearly the same as that of a new one. That’s how hot this thing still is.

    Another business friend from Paris was in NYC and bought two Ipad 2s at our J&R Store. Because the price here cost the same amount of dollars as her friendly French store wanted in Euros.

    UK Ipad site

  27. From reading this thread it seems that warfare is now more likely to be fought on the commercial industrial front, rather than the political.

    If that is so, then we may being seeing the end of the large scale bloody conflicts we have become so familiar with, – it could well be a blessing in disguise.

    On the other hand, – it could be the forerunner of worse things to come, – after all, I am sure our politicians will hate to see such fine technology go to waste, just to make us prole’s lives a little easier!

    Does that sound a tad cynical?…

  28. “When I shopped, I was amazed that the price of a used item was nearly the same as that of a new one. That’s how hot this thing still is.”

    I’ve never known you this excited Phantom…
    Are you on commission?

    I could never understand why in the country that invented rain, our cars were always the first to rust.. 🙂

  29. “you can buy a version of the latest Ipad for £225 in the East End of London…
    I doubt that.”

    Oh yeah, geographical error. I meant the East End of Bombay..

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