No more jobs for the boys and girls


Image courtesy of Liberal Democrats

Nick Clegg, the rather pointless Deputy Prime Minister of Britain’s sad little coalition, is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. No one in the country likes him not even Liberal Democrats, his party is about to be annihilated in the local elections on the 5th of May and the referendum on the Alternative Vote system hardly looks like its going to go his way. And this is entirely a situation of his own making, the man would be out of his depth in a paddling pool.

So to hear some sense come out of Cleggy’s mouth was a rather unusual experience. And on one issue he seems to have got it right, his belief that valuable internships in Britain’s best businesses, an essential way into the professional and financial services sectors and not to mention the creative industries, should no longer be allocated on the basis on nepotism rather merit.
While these jobs are often unpaid or paid at marginal rates they are a powerful way to gain work experience, get feet on the bottom rungs of corporate ladders and build relationships inside businesses. Informal though they often are, internships are important for both the young people that take them up and for the organisations that offer them.
Now let’s put to one side the fact that the Cleggmeister himself benefited from a spot of nepotism in order to get his first job in some ghastly financial services organisation. The man has a point and it’s a point that we should take to heart in advertising.
Because the sordid truth about our industry is that the people that tend to hoover up the internships on offer in Adland are the privileged and not the talented. Whether out of fear of the repercussions if they refuse or to garner a little favour, by and large agencies fall over themselves to offer internships to the children of their clients. And if not to them then to equally privileged kids that will have no trouble in finding a job and hardly need this leg up.
There is already a perfectly good way into our business for the privileged and that is the graduate recruitment programmes we run. Even the best and I would include our own summer scholarship programme in this, are only open to graduates and favour those people that have the sort of self belief only the British public school system can instil.
So let’s leave the graduate recruitment programmes to bring in the nice middle class kids from decent universities that have a ‘passion’ for advertising. And let’s free up our internships for kids that come from more diverse and unusual backgrounds, that aren’t necessarily academically outstanding but are damn smart and who may not realise that advertising is their thing or even that there are jobs in creating and making the ads they see everywhere.
And not because we are all do-gooders that want to give a break to less advantaged kids. But for the sole reason that as businesses we depend on difference and diversity to create and shape our ideas, not to mention the fact that our work speaks to the whole of Britain and not to a privileged elite. Add the unavoidable fact that no qualification on earth can provide any indication of how good someone will be at this business and you have a powerful argument for us to follow Nick Clegg’s lead and stop informal and nepotistic internships as he is doing in the civil service. Instead, we should all be creating alliances with schools and youth projects from all over the UK to find and nurture new and more diverse talent for our agencies with the internship as the essential first stage in these new careers.

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8 Replies to “No more jobs for the boys and girls”

  1. Interesting that your post about diversity casually bitches like a little girl about Clegg. I’m no lib dem but he’s the one man who’s got this country closer than ever before to some genuine constitutional change. av may not be perfect but it would usher in more liberal dems who could force a future vote on pr; ultimately bringing about a fairer and more diverse representation of our society. But what do you care, Clegg was just a lazy intro to your ill-thought out blog post.

  2. That some people can’t see why people are so angry at nick Clegg is worrying. I understand why he did what he did but he totally misread how people would react. It’s up to him now to repair that.
    That Ed ‘Interesting’ Milliband didn’t want to be seen alongside Clegg in the AV vote says a lot.
    As for the post I think it’s right. Not all agencies dole out placements this way, but far too many still do.

  3. As a life long supporter of PR I worry that Clegg has really blown it. That this isn’t the beginning of a move towards a fairer representation of the will of the people but the end of the debate. He has sold his soul to the devil and let’s face it that’s what the Tories represent, for 15 minutes of fame in the most unpopular government since thatcher was booted out and a punt at a referendum on pr he seems incapable of pulling off. Moreover, he has split the pro AV vote by agreeing to the Tory gerrymandering of the boundaries. This is a man that defines “wrestling defeat from the jaws of victory”.
    Incidentally in case it had escaped you I am in agreement with Nick Clegg on this issue.

  4. I think the Tories outsmarted Clegg. They knew he would lose popularity by joining up with them and in the process wreck the AV vote he wanted.
    I support AV but don’t expect it to get through… sadly

  5. I think AV fails to understand the real point of democracy. The point of democracy is not to allow you to choose the government you want, but to allow you to get rid of governments you don’t want. Hence a degree of disproportionality is a good thing.
    Whatever your politics, there was something impressive about 1979 and 1997 in the UK, or Obama’s or Reagan’s election in the US. They showed people demanding – and getting – genuine change.
    More proportional systems often (not always) create unassailable political castes and tribes, with parties often indistinguishable from each other, as in Ireland.
    As a good Darwinist, you should probably support this Schumpeterian view of creative destruction. Are free markets wonderful at picking winners? Not really. (See,19856/ ) But free markets are very good at killing off losers.
    The real role of natural selection is the same – ruthlessly to eliminate species which are ill suited to an environment thereby making room for something else – not necessarily something ideal but something less crap.
    Nobody says this much, of course, because it makes you sound like Hitler. And it isn’t very nice to say “Oh, goody, I see that rather mediocre coffee shop on the High Street has gone bankrupt, and its employees rendered jobless.”
    But it’s still true.

  6. Irregardless of the politics behind this, perhaps it would be advantageous to consider the value of opening up more internships and creating diversity. It will never be known what new advancements and new ways of thinking could be uncovered unless opportunities are given to the people who can bring diversity. I think Clegg makes an important point.

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  8. Couldn’t agree more.
    I suspect creative success (for want of a better phrase) isn’t particularly well correlated with academic success.
    The psychology of creative thought isn’t well adapted to academia, creative minds are ‘badly wired’, seeking unusual connections -the outside edge of the obvious- which institutional teaching for the main part tries to eradicate.
    Those who do well at Uni aren’t necessarily equipped to think for themselves. And as a consequence our recruitment process (and politics) tuned as it is to the red-brick and russell group may be missing-out on the best creative thinkers of the next generation.

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