The New Economy Explained


Once, you went for a job and started making the tea, showed willing, worked your way up and became the boss. Now there’s a new way of getting on. Last Monday, six different one-week placements were auctioned at a Tory party fundraising evening with bids reaching £3,700 for work experience at Condé Nast, £3,000 for a spell at Ecosse Films, £2,500 to work at a contemporary art dealer, £1,300 at a catering company, £1,250 for a spell with a PR agency and £1,100 for a placement at a financial consultancy.

The menial jobs involve tea making and letter-opening, and are so in demand you can now charge for them. For many years, the film industry has exploited kids who have a strange notion that the job is glamorous. Usually those employed have to live in the city centre (long hours means it’s difficult to get home) so if you’re from Wales you’ve got no chance – you probably couldn’t afford city rent anyway. Consequently, the gene pool stays small and is limited to the untalented children of nearby producers. At production companies all over London you find drug-addled halfwits occupying jobs that could go to regional kids with talent and energy. Trust the Tories to take it a stage further and actually flog the jobs off, regardless of talent, to the highest bidder.

6 comments on “The New Economy Explained”

  1. I.A.M. says:

    I was working somewhere — don’t recall the job, but at least this proves I did once work — and was able to do something in way of either preventing or solving a disaster, which the owner/boss noticed and complimented/thanked me about/for. Shortly thereafter I was speaking to my Grandfather and told him of the event. He replied something to the effect of “you see: that’ll get you somewhere higher up, lad.” Sadly, he was wrong.

    However, the problem lies not in Grandfather’s naïveté, but in the short-sighted expectation by owners or operators of business that the employee is there to save them money in that way. If they were really smart, they’d exploit that employee by shoving them up the ladder and giving them more opportunity to save money for the firm and sucking them dry of intelligent ideas. Not the best way to phrase it, but it would at least appeal to the basest instincts and get the right thing done in the end.

  2. I.A.M. says:

    Oh, one more thing: is there anything hotter than a tea lady? I mean seriously: who wouldn’t want to bend one of them over a tower of pastry and have at ‘er? Whooooooah!

  3. I’ve wondered the same thing about the BBC, but why doesn’t the film industry *do* something about this – e.g. some production companies get together and buy up some cheap shared flats so that they can actually provide accommodation to their interns and give the talented kids from the regions a cat’s hope in hell of actually being able to take up the placement? Or is there a vested interest in reserving the entry-level jobs for people-like-us?

  4. Adam Holdsworth says:

    One of my Sociology lecturers, Chris Jenks, at Goldsmiths’ suggested this very form of employment could, and probably would happen. He was only half-joking, but actually not bad for a prediction made over 20 years ago.

  5. Mike Cane says:

    >>>Once, you went for a job and started making the tea, showed willing, worked your way up and became the boss.

    Snort! Maybe in the late 1800s!

    These days: Get in debt, get an MBA, get a swank office levels over the people who actually *know how* to run things.

    The most brilliant thing I read recently was revelatory: “Management” is an *invention*.

    (Along those lines: you manage *things* but lead *people*.)

    Damn, how the hell did the universe and Mother Earth ever get along without “management”?

  6. Anne Fernie says:

    The most worrying development is that this form of so-called ‘work experience’ is almost becoming expected by potential employees as it demonstrates ‘initiative’, ‘keeness’ etc. etc. How graduates who are not supported by their families and who have accrued massive debts are expected to work unpaid for up to a year, pay rent and subsist on nothing is beyond me. I am very dubious about the ‘marketable’ skills that are acquired under such conditions anyway. Wasn’t this sort of thing once known as indentured labour? Making the slave pay for his own servitude is the real doozy though.

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