Wednesday, September 18, 2013

British etiquette experts to offer classes in social skills to young people who 'have no idea how to behave at work'

It has been giving Britain’s aristocracy advice on social etiquette for more than 200 years.

Now Debrett’s is branching out from producing guides on elegant manners and will start offering courses in social skills to jobseekers.

The publishing house is offering residential and day courses - starting at a £1,000 - to a generation of young people who struggle to make eye contact or proffer a firm handshake.

Debrett’s developed its programme on ‘social intelligence’ for under-30s after business leaders raised serious issues around young people entering the modern workplace.

Its research highlights concerns over the employability of graduates and school leavers who have no idea how to behave at work.

Debrett’s says that ‘manners, social intelligence, personal presentation and impact can be as important as academic qualifications.

‘With so much focus on exam results and the hectic informality of modern family life and technology, social graces can be a casualty.’

The courses come amid accusations that schools and universities are so focused on academic targets that they are failing to produce rounded graduates.

Instead they are turning out young people who are shy and awkward after spending all their time on the internet or mobiles, who lack the ability to spell or write a letter, and are unable to get through a day without regular online checks on what their friends are up to.

Louise Ruell , Debrett’s director of training, said: ‘Young employees need to differentiate themselves beyond their academic achievements.  The research clearly shows that this is often lacking.’

Ninety per cent of the senior executives on a panel at Debrett’s believe social skills are just as important, or even more important, than academic skills.

Some 63 per cent said their office juniors often lack any such skills at all. A quarter said they had even embarrassed them in front of clients.

Meanwhile, one in four business leaders complained that prospective candidates had inflated expectations regarding salaries and career progression and were over-confident and formulaic in interviews.

Misplaced informality was another complaint. Some 21per cent of employers said young employees had dressed inappropriately for the workplace or had drunk too much at work social events.

Amelia Higham, managing director of Dovetail Insurance, said: ‘There is so much emphasis on passing written exams that there’s no room for them to be taught life skills.

‘Throw in text jargon and overuse of the internet to communicate and you’ve got a generation which cannot connect one to one. Being a nice person to do business with is crucial no matter what business you are in.’

She said she would prefer a job applicant to have good social skills rather than perfect academic grades.

‘We have just had a chap in. On paper he looked fabulous - he had brilliant qualifications. On the second day he had to write a letter - he couldn’t do it. It was appalling really.

‘It’s the whole ethos of this generation - they miss a trick with their attitude of expectation.

‘We all expected to do rough jobs during the summer holidays or whatever, pick fruit, knock on doors selling things, working in a factory. Those jobs taught life skills.

‘Every teenager should have to do some sort of summer job. It would teach them not to rely on the bank of mum and dad and help their development as well.’

The publishing house considers itself an expert on 'knowing the who's who and what's what of today's Britain'

Almost three quarters of the 58 business leaders in the survey did agree that a preoccupation with technology hurts the social skills of young employees, affecting their ability to build relationships with clients.

Even firms whose business is in the digital world are concerned.

Linford Haggie, managing director at Graphic Alliance, a digital advertising agency, said: ‘We want candidates who live and breathe the digital world but too many are over-reliant on technology.

‘They are shy and scared. They don’t want to pick up a phone and have lost any people skills. I don’t blame them, no, they need to have the working world demystified and schools and businesses have a part to play.’


Statist school district fat police

 Compulsory public school education is unconstitutional and profoundly anti-liberty. The United States Constitution provides zero authority for the government to mandate attendance at schools in order to force its educational agenda upon the populace. 
Education is a private personal matter.

Forcing parents and children by law to participate in compulsory education programs clearly violates the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and freedom of association. It compels human beings to accept government propaganda and to associate with government agents whether they like it or not. Part of the fundamental concept of freedom of speech is the freedom to listen or not listen to the speech of others or to associate or not with them.

Likewise, forcing parents and children by law to attend school several hours per day, five days per week over the course of thirteen of the child’s most formative years, clearly violates the Fifth Amendment prohibitions against deprivation of liberty and property without due process of law. It compels human beings to sacrifice their time and freedom to government purposes whether they like it or not.

Today the Statist government education authorities want to violate their captives Fourth Amendment constitutional rights as well. The fundamental right to be secure in your “person” against unreasonable searches and seizures without probable cause and a warrant based upon oath or affirmation is being routinely violated by the statists.

In short, the government education statists are treating their child captives just like domesticated animals while they are caged up by force at school. The kids’ entire lives are like an open book under the scrutiny of the authorities. They enjoy no rights. They are forced to attend, forced to listen, forced to associate, and forced to sacrifice their precious liberty to the whims of the government.

Now they are even being forced to surrender their personal dignity and self esteem too. The government goons are weighing them in annual weigh-ins like hogs before the slaughter to determine their body mass index (BMI) for the purpose of deciding whether they are too fat for their own good and the good of society at large.
An individual’s BMI is calculated by dividing their weight by the square of their height.  This figure is then compared to growth charts accounting for the person’s age and gender, in order to understand how they compare to the rest of their peers.  BMI is the primary measurement used to determine if a person is considered overweight and obese.

Those children who flunk the government enforced BMI test have to contend with ‘Fat letters’ sent home to their parents admonishing them to take notice that the government statists have deemed them as overweight. Its part of a whole new scholastic measurement concept: body mass index (BMI) grade report cards. The kids call them “fat letters.”

So it’s no longer about education. It’s about government control of the lives of its subjects. The government thinks it’s their business to determine whether a child’s weight is healthy or unhealthy. Just exactly where they acquired that authority is beyond me; it doesn’t exist; it’s unlawful and unconstitutional.
But good luck when you tell that to the statist school district fat police.


Controversy: Teacher Knowledge Vs. Teacher Diversity

The big story of the week so far (in Illinois, at least) seems to be complaints expressed by the state teachers union at a recent state board of education meeting about the new(ish) TAP test for teacher candidates, whose rigor is much higher and whose adoption has led to a decrease in overall and race-specific pass rates.

"Sixty percent of African-Americans used to pass the TAP, according to WBEZ. "Now it’s 17 percent. For Hispanics, the pass rate has dropped from 70 percent, to 22 percent."

As do most of these kinds of stories, the WBEZ Chicago Public Radio story about the new test's impact (Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates) focuses largely on the impact of the test on teacher diversity, and about the emotional plight of minority candidates who want to teach but can't pass the test. Ditto for the follow-up segment (Testing teachers causes unexpected racial division).

There's much less attention on the reality that the previous test was much too easy, that too many teachers lack basic (college sophomore) reading writing and math skills, or that teachers can take the test multiple times, or submit ACT or other scores, and that the WBEZ reporter who took the test appeared to have no problem passing it.

Not everyone has responded predictably to the news, however.  "Do we need teachers who look like our students?" asks Chicago teacher and blogger Ray Salazar.  "Only if they know their content, only if they can teach and engage students, only if they have the social skills to maneuver through class and generational differences, only if they’re focused on students and not on themselves. Being brown and college-degreed and passionate is not enough."

For journalists and others, the fundamental question is whether our primary sympathies and concerns should rest with the teachers, individually and collectively, or with the students and the overall health of the institutions in which teachers work (ie, schools).


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