The changing entry level job market

My oldest offspring Tom yesterday joined the ranks of the employed. He is working as a traffic announcer on BBC Radio Oxford. It’s what he has wanted to do since he was 15. Not announce the traffic on BBC Oxford. Work in the radio business.

The trigger point came when he went on a school trip to the Lincolnshire Show. The BBC tent had a competition for kids to do a sports commentary. He won. He was hooked. I was in London at the time. He rang me up and told me he was no longer interested in becoming a vet but instead was going to do a degree in media studies and go to work for the BBC. The idea of having a media luvvie as a son took a bit of getting used to although it did have the side benefit in that he lost interest in keeping hamsters, gerbils and rabbits that were a pain to look after.

So since the age of 15 Tom has spent all his waking hours working in radio. He had various shows on Lincoln local community radio station Siren FM and helped out at BBC Radio Lincolnshire where at the age of 18 he broadcast his own 1 hour show on yoof matters in which he interviewed Feargal Sharkey about music piracy.  At Warwick University  all his free time, and there was a lot of it (History & Politics), was spent working on media projects.  Working with uni radio station RaW FM  he won a number of National Student Radio Awards.

Tom has lived and breathed radio for six years and his hard work has now earned him the reward of a first step on the ladder in the real world. I am a proud dad.

Next up. I am on the Industrial Panel of Bangor University School of Engineering. After years where difficult to study subjects that have been in decline the University have now seen an upsurge in school leavers wanting to study Engineering and Physics. The woes of the economy together with the need to see value for the huge amount of money that these kids have to pay towards their continuing education is resulting in the flight to quality. It is no longer acceptable to study a mickey mouse subject. Students have an eye on the tough job market.

The world of work has changed forever. At Timico we now regularly get requests from students for work experience. where we can we try to accommodate these requests at least while the numbers are still manageable. Work experience is becoming hugely important for kids. I’d go further and say that if you want to work in a specific industry work experience within that industry is essential. With hundreds of applications for each job it will be one of the first things that jump out of the page at employers.

I’d go even further. People need to demonstrate their enthusiasm for a specific line of work and be able to talk knowledgeably about it even before their first day at work. For people wanting careers in engineering that is easy. By and large they have to be able to show they are geeks. Good English and communications skills are also important.

For others perhaps having their own blogs is a way of doing it. All my kids have their own blogs and/or websites, some of them since they were 11 years old. At some stage the three that remain in full time education (yes yes very virile I know:) ) will need to start focussing in the same way that Tom did. I’d say a blog that shows an interest in matters legal, accountancy, hairdressing, being a racing driver etc etc will help a lot. Writing about a subject makes you think about that subject and get to know it.

I graduated in 1983. It was typical for an engineering grad in those days to have 5 or 6 job offers on the table.  GEC Marconi alone had enough vacancies to take the entire yearly output of the British University system’s schools of Electronic Engineering. It wasn’t the same in other disciplines and it certainly isn’t the same today. As an aside it’s interesting to see how the wholesale destruction of GEC Marconi by incompetent management will also have destroyed a lot of high quality engineering jobs in the UK.

If you are doing your ALevels this summer I’d start thinking about the world of work now. If you are finishing your degree and haven’t yet given it any thought you’re leaving it a bit late. There is of course another approach which is a more happy go lucky surf bum way of thinking. You choose. It’s your life.

That’s all. It’s a bit off topic but kind of relevant.

Published by Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of trefor.net, writer, poet, philosopherontap.com

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