the dichotomy of youth Would you let 16-year-olds help to run your company? Because the government is planning just that for the country, with implications for businesses, argues Tony Phillips
Published:  17 August, 2007

T he world really is going mad. Let me put a scenario to you. On day one, you employ five 16- to 17-year-old trainees. These youngsters are not old enough to buy cigarettes or alcohol, but you appoint them either to your board or works committee and say to them: "We have a serious business problem here and we want you, with all your wisdom and expertise, to vote on how we should run this company for the next five years."

Now, if you know a quicker way to ruin your company, you really have a fertile imagination. Yet this is what those idiotic MPs are contemplating doing - by giving the vote to 16-year-olds.

The move is based on the somewhat vague hope that the very young are daft enough to vote for the so-called liberal left. But what experience do they have of life at that age? When I was that age, with all the testosterone coursing through my blood, all I could think of was playing football and cricket, and getting Pauline behind the bicycle shed. Mind you, to be truthful, I was fairly good at the first two and an abject failure at the third.

When I was young, the minimum voting age was 21. We used to ask: "Why, at 18, am I old enough to do National Service, but not old enough to vote?" Would we expect our current-day 16-year-olds to be old enough to accept the responsibility of taking on a mortgage and babies? Alas, many do take on the babies and, in many cases, it ruins their lives. Then we all have to support them and wonder why, with all the taxes we pay, there is never enough to put right our infrastructure.

You may ask, "But what has this got to do with bakery?" Well, if 16-year-olds can vote, they have a say in producing new idiotic laws, making business more difficult, so how will we ever run our companies and produce our goods on time?

Many of the young already find it incredibly difficult to come to work on time and, after a hard Saturday night's partying, they get their parents, who should know better, to phone in on a Monday morning, telling us they are sick. Maybe they could vote for a 10am start and a day off on Mondays.

Like all of you, we have or had young folk who are really great and keen to learn. But let them grow up and have fun - not give them responsibility they neither want nor are capable of handling. Let's face it, if young people were wise, they would miss all the fun of youth and, as we all know as we get older, youth is wasted on the young.

Bakers are always discussing the difficulty of getting young people into the trade and asking what they can do to encourage young people to join us. My feeling is, very little.

The fault does not lie with us. It's because the government tries to get too many ill-educated children into university to study useless courses. Then, when they graduate, they cannot get jobs in the field they have been studying for, as these just do not exist.

At the same time, they have delusions of grandeur, thinking they are too qualified to work with their hands, as they have all been studying management. The government thinks the real world is like the public sector - 20 managers to every worker. n




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