“When I was a teenager I had a great Saturday job in my local store. I loved it, it gave me some pocket money and gave me my first taster of what my working life would be like. It’s easy to look back at the good old days, but these last few years have proved they really were good. As a 16-year-old I had money in my pocket, places to go and spend it and the prospect of a job that could buy me a house and give me some great opportunities.
Now, you have to feel for the younger generation. I hear some of you huff and puff with stories about them being a hassle to work with or a nightmare to recruit. But let’s just stop and look for a minute. This generation have had more obstacles in their way than any other. They’ve not been able to get Saturday jobs thanks to new laws, many schools don’t offer work experience and there’s no career officers anymore. Throw Covid into the mix and we have teenagers that aren’t work ready; they haven’t had a chance to develop their social skills, their work skills or matured to be ready to mix.
They have missed two years of social development with schools being closed or working in isolation, and when they come to us, we expect them to be work ready? That’s just not happening and we all have to take stock of what we can do to help this lost generation.
“THIS GENERATION HAVE HAD MORE OBSTACLES IN THEIR WAY THAN ANY OTHER.”
Of course, the government should be recognising this but some of it falls on us too. We need to support them when they start their apprenticeships, we need to help them learn how to smile, how to interact with clients and how to develop socially. It might seem obvious to us, but customer service skills are alien to many youngsters.
We also need to make parents aware of what is involved when they start training; I get parents calling asking why their little Johnny is still sweeping floors and not earning £50,000 within a few months. We all need to be more realistic – from parents who read about high wages, to youngsters who think it takes a few months to be qualified, to barbershop owners who need to be aware youngsters are a lot younger than we were, both mentally and emotionally.
I work with my local college and they are finding the same issues with their students – so as an industry we need to come together and work with this generation to ensure barbering is in safe hands. They’ve not been around mentors, seen how to behave in the workplace; these things aren’t taught at school and they’ve not been exposed to the world of work. They need to know they will start at the bottom – like we all did – but there are incredible opportunities available to them if they work hard.ˮ