The truth is more complex than Professor Mike Savage suggests in this otherwise excellent piece in the Guardian brought to us courtesy of Dr Alf.
The words “class” and “accent” are not mentioned once yet the moment a C1, C2, D or E opens his or her mouth they are condemned as lacking polish or being thick in University milk round interviews by classist employers who compare the voices they hear to their own.
The same happens if they encounter selection boards for the civil service, assuming they manage to get that far.
Even people who sound and look the part can find themselves rejected for positions because of their postcode because their surname seems strange, (Not British enough), because they are not a member of a particular society, grouping and even the timing of their university or further education.
One might be forgiven for thinking that someone who left school at 16 did A levels at night and who completed an MBA at night whilst working in a different country would be seen as disciplined and more motivated than someone who had remained in the UK, completed A levels and then gone on to University in the conventional way. Sadly you would be wrong, the right alumnus plus getting your qualifications at the same time as your interrogator makes you a PLU (Person Like Us), doing things the hard way makes you an outsider and often “persona non grata”.
Then there is the question of dress. Young C1, C2 males are not taught how to match colours together or the value of certain brands of shoes, shirts and suits, whereas those who have been privately educated are taught all of these things.
Working class people walk a certain way, as do people from the favoured classes and they also use different body language, sentence construction, illustrative examples and methods of greeting.
Those who are favoured use these to winnow out those deemed to be “not good enough” in all kinds of situations which are why the UK has never been a meritocracy and probably never will be.
National Service should be reintroduced in order to inculcate self-reliance, personal organisation and self-discipline on people.
However, with automation, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, offshoring AI and cybernetics a lot of these young working class men will have to become self-employed or do what my late parents and millions of others have done, migrate overseas, learn another language and find work in countries about which they know nothing.
The system of education as now constituted and the culture does not equip these working class young men to compete unless they have exceptional talents or are discovered by Simon Cowell and transmuted into celebrities.
Well, meaning academics like Professor Mike Savage and the broken system of hiring people plus the education system all have to change before anything will really improve for this latter-day set of pariahs. I suspect we will be waiting till doomsday, especially if we rely upon George Osborne to find blue-collared jobs.
Young people, especially young working class people, must help themselves to acquire the social and technical skills to survive and succeed in tomorrow’s world.