Sunday, 8 September 2013

Put your 'Lucky Knickers' on!

Yesterday, at 52 , my husband retired. On the day he gave in his notice my son was offered an apprenticeship and yesterday as my husband was retiring my 13 year old daughter was being offered her first job.

Whilst government statistics show that unemployment is up and that many graduates are unable to get a job, that hasn’t been our experience at all.

 I’m not suggesting that those who are unable to get jobs aren’t trying but I do think that with confidence and strong social skills it is possible to secure work.

Last summer for example, my son who was then fifteen ,offered to help at our local kennels during a particularly busy holiday week. He didn’t offer expecting  payment,he just wanted to help the owner and he reckoned that he would gain something from the experience. When, at the end of the week he was paid, he was so chuffed with himself!

A year later and he has been asked by the kennels to provide emergency cover and will now be working at weekends until his apprenticeship starts in October.

Then , last night , I received a text asking if my thirteen year old daughter would also  like to help  as the kennels were full?

 Despite the early rise she was really excited at the prospect of having a ‘real’ job and earning some money and she jumped at the chance and will now be helping out more regularly when her brother goes to work. Not only will the experience help her confidence to grow but she will learn the value of filling in her time sheets and planning her time,

Neither of these opportunities was sought out. They were simply the result of two youngsters seizing opportunities when they came along. My input as a facilitator is simply to ferry them backwards and forwards which means an early rise for me at weekends!

Some people would call it luck- but the more I see ‘lucky’ people the more disagree. "Lucky people" are usually those who are positive and prepared to take risks.

When the government was criticised recently for introducing a scheme for giving youngsters work experience I thought the critics very short sighted. They resented the low pay being offered to youngsters and regarded it as slave labour. Had they turned it on it's head they would have recognised that in reality youngsters were being given the opportunity to learn skills   which they could add to their CV’s when seeking work.

 Youngsters need to appreciate the opportunities too – the school system doesn’t help them. Recently, whilst talking to a friend of my son he told me that  he couldn’t understand why someone would want to work in a local business for free.He'd failed to notice the relevance to that young person of the work experience in a field he wanted to pursue.

So far the experience in this household has been that it is life skills which count far more  than academic qualifications. It’s about who and what you know, how you handle people and about being open minded and flexible.

As one door closes another often opens. My husband may have retired from the Fire service but he is now about to embark on a new venture- his own fire risk assessment business. It’s a gamble but a calculated one. He has been slowly and patiently setting up and planning for the last two years to the point that he realised that he was paying so much into his pension fund that he really had to earn very little to bring his take home pay up to its current level. It’s an exciting time and something which ,with hindsight, he should have done years ago. But you can’t have regrets, you just learn from  experience and we are trying to teach our children that they don’t have to be an ‘employee’ as schools and job centres would lead them to believe. They  can be their their own boss with the sacrifices and responsibilities that entails and above all they can be successful (and by that I mean happy rather than rich!).

 So in this family anyway, we will be putting on our “lucky knickers” and keeping our fingers (and legs crossed) that the elastic doesn’t snap! (Although even if it does we will no doubt bounce back!)


  1. Great post. I was talking to my eldest (almost 16) just this morning about how it might be a good idea to do some volunteering work next summer, or to ask the place where he is going to work experience if he can go back again. Such experience is so valuable, especially when trying to get your first "proper" job. Well done, and good luck to you all.

  2. Thanks Rachel. There are all sorts of volunteering jobs.Sadly volunteering doesn't seem to be fashionable any more which is a shame as it is such a valuable part of building communities!