Hire a 'hoodie': is minister out of touch?

HoodieKatie Collins/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, has called on companies to reconsider "the surly young man in a hoodie who turns up looking unwilling to work". He said employers should forgo the easy option of employing a committed Eastern European with five years' experience, to give a local lad an opportunity.

It echoes Cameron's attachment to Hoodies while in opposition, but has Grayling lost the plot?

Hoodie attachment

Back in 2006, Cameron was branded as having told people to 'hug a hoodie'. In fact it was a Labour-invented phrase used to paint him as soft on crime when he gave a speech saying that we should be trying to understand what had gone wrong in children's lives to turn them to crime at a tender age.

Grayling, the Employment Minister, didn't need spin. He was loudly advocating the employment of youths in hoodies at a launch of a new drive to get more people into work.

He said: "It's easy to hire someone from Eastern Europe with five years experience and who has had the get up and go to cross a continent in search for work. And many employers do so." However, he urged employers to look for 'gems' closer to home, saying: "It's all about the expectations that they have, and the place they come from. And employers who give them that chance find it enormously rewarding."


Clearly there are companies dedicated to supporting disadvantaged youngsters. Perhaps the most high profile is Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant, which puts young apprentices at its heart. Oliver explains: "I set up Fifteen because I believe young people have untapped talents, often hidden by problems in their home lives. These talents can be freed by a passion for good food and meaningful hard work."

However, anyone who watched the first batch of recruits on 'Jamie's Kitchen' will recognise that it wasn't straightforward. Of the original 15, only 8 stayed the course. This was a huge success for a socially-motivated apprenticeship dedicated to employing those who would be considered unemployable by the vast majority of employers. However, many businesses could not cope with a recruitment process where almost half failed to make the grade, and many of the other half had to go through a testing process before starting to shine.


Dee Dee Doke, editor of Recruiter magazine says that even those committed to looking for untapped potential could struggle. She explains: "Equal opportunities legislation means you must not discriminate. You cannot, for example, ask if someone comes from a disadvantaged background." Identifying 'hoodies' who would benefit from an opportunity is therefore not so clear-cut.

She adds that in the current climate many employers are looking for someone who can start work and contribute from day one, because they cannot afford the time and investment to intensively develop a 'surly youth' into a committed employee. She says: "Recruiters will meet the client's brief. If the client is looking for someone who has five years experience they will look for the person that best fits the brief."

But what do you think? Should employers be forced to 'hire a hoodie'? Let us know in the comments.


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