phones4u are offering jobs ...

15 November 2001

phones4u are offering jobs to 14 and 15 year olds to sell hand held computers. they’re offering low wages but luring these new employees with tales of future riches. whilst i think these future riches are likely to be utterly bogus for the majority of their new recruits i disagree with the teaching unions that the company is being irresponsible by employing people this young.

personally i think that there’s a lot to be said for combining school and work and that teachers ought to examine their claims that studying for gcse exams means that their students shouldn’t have time for anything else in their life. i think the laws on employing young people are reasonable enough and phones4u are working within those laws and there shouldn’t be a problem.

i’m going to lapse into one of those “in my day” bits now, feel free to switch off… i was 14 in 1986 and got paid £7 a week for delivering papers for at least 2 hours every morning. that’s less than 50p an hour. i didn’t enjoy it much and graduated to a £1.05 an hour saturday job in the local bookshop at the earliest opportunity. that level of work, which was widespread amongst my peers, didn’t cause teaching unions to get up in arms so why does the much cushier phones4u offer cause them to do so?

i think the attitude that needs examining is:

they could think this is an alternative career route. we know it’s not. we know that they should be concentrating on their education at this age and responsible employers know that also. education is a lifelong thing. it’s not something you squeeze in before 16/18/21 and then spend the rest of your life trying to forget. it’s not something you can’t get later if you’re more interested in other things when you’re under those ages. it’s not something only found in school lessons.

i know my viewpoints coloured by the fact that i’m a very independent person and earning money myself was an important thing for me to do as a teenager. i was a teenager who wanted to be at school, to go to university, to learn about everything. but narrow minded attitudes that you can only learn at school and if you miss the boat it’s gone forever miss the fact that there’s a lot more to life than studying for exams and that learning to sell computers could well be more beneficial for many people than getting their gcse grades.