This is an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review that warrants a read. Check it out!
The Best Path to Success is Your Own – Gianpiero Petriglieri – Harvard Business Review.
In my view, the article only paints part of the broader picture – it ignores the reality that jobs or entrepreneurial start-ups are harder for today’s youth generation – not everybody has the financial, intellectual resources and perhaps privileged connections to take on an MBA at Harvard Business School.
What do you think?
The people who go to Russell Group Universities are the people who have always had top jobs and they comprise less than 7% of the population.
The problem is they have life too easy and are completely removed from how ordinary people think and live.
As a result whenever there is a Commission of Enquiry or investigation, most of the potential solutions are missed because the problem is misdiagnosed, seen as insignificant because they cannot see how it would affect them, or is acknowledged but seen as too expensive to deal with.
The rot starts when the words “Something must be done” or “This is morally indefensible” ring out across the airways or are seen in an editorial.
What normally happens is a group of eminent people are assembled and they pontificate but propose either no action or action that Governments choose not to take.
Tony Blair’s enquiry and the resultant “Social Exclusion Unit” are cases in point, because under him UK society became more unequal than it did under Margaret Thatcher.
Those sorts of commissions, in order to work, need to have people who understand real life at the sharp end on them, not just the “Great and the Good”.
Looking back say to the 1960s and the 11 plus, the chances of someone who had failed that exam getting to a university were 1 in 25,000.
Now, the odds are only better because A levels have been dumbed down and too many people do useless degrees that employers won’t recognise.
Michael Gove was right to speak up but why now?—He has been in Government for two years!
If we really want a more equal and socially mobile society we need to emulate the better bits of Scandinavian society, the education systems of Finland, South Korea and Singapore, the export competitiveness of the Germans and a much more competitive banking system within a framework of lean and mean public services.
John, many thanks for your excellent response which I broadly endorse. However, as a trained research social scientist, I see matters slightly differently. For me, there is often a weakness in research methodology with bias not properly disclosed. For example, I have enormous respect for the Public Accounts Committee under the chairmanship of Margaret Hodge.
He is right but as you say he is looking at matters from the perspective of someone who is at Harvard, has parents with sufficient wealth to send them there and who already has life choices.
For a person with parents who are simple working people or who has neither connections, access to credit, membership of a golf club, an acceptable surname and a good school, things are much harder.
I speak from experience as someone who lived and worked in America, got a fiancee visa retroactively and went to a large comprehensive school in the UK where one particular teacher said that we were all second rate before taking a lucrative post in American academia.
He also said that none of us would be able to function in a place like America at his sort of level because of our small town attitudes.
Fortunately the human mind can transcend this sort of prejudice but it requires discipline and can take a toll.
The UK education system at state level is not equipping students for a world in which half of them will never have jobs(1.4% economic growth since 1946 doesn’t cut it) and the public are simply too ill informed by the politicians by the stark choices that will have to be made and what the country has to do in terms of paying the price for remaining a first world country.
Since a lot of people in the UK have a “security blanket” “the world owes me a living mentality”, they will have to be re-educated or taught another useful language and be encouraged too emigrate to another country, rather like the Tyneside builders in the 1980s, who were forced to go to Germany to look for work.
This time round, they will be forced to look further afield as Europe has failed to create a single nett new job in 25 years and is unlikely to do so ever again.
Those of a practical bent, with few academic skills, will need to be able to undertake repairs or make things that people want such as furniture, bookcases, summerhouses, boats for the wealthy, wrought ironwork or thatched cottages. For them we need business boot camps, school industry links and mentoring from experienced people to teach them how to market and sell their wares, mitigate their tax burden and control costs.
I have done some of this sort of work on a pro-bono and confidential basis and assisted a number of people, including ex members of the armed forces including one ex RAF man who is an expert glassblower who has pieces in Claudia Schiffer’s house.
Without Government intervention on a grand scale (neither the Coalition or Ed Miliband seem to grasp the scale of the problem), many people in the UK are doomed to a life on the dole, at the margins and without the wherewithal to take the learned Harvard professor’s advice.
As another former management consultant, interim manager and corporate troubleshooter, I identify with your argument and proposed solution. Whilst the crux of the problem is with the Home Office and their Ministers, I believe that part of the inefficiency rests with the bureaucracy of regulated industries in the UK which is not necessarily in the public’s best interests, in my view. Perhaps, an independent enquiry is appropriate?
John, many thanks for your very interesting response which I broadly endorse. You are right that the problem for most people with education or skills training challenges is remote from the issues of students of elitest Ivy League institutions like Harvard, or the UK equivalent, e.g. Oxford and Cambridge.