It's rarely someone else's fault
Updated: Apr 23, 2019
Tony Blair was in our neck of the woods recently, addressing a conference in Dubai where he said: “The answer to someone who is unemployed in a country like mine or anywhere else in Europe, is not to blame migrants for having taken your job, is to get the education and the skills necessary in order to be able to operate in the modern world.”
Simplistic? Yes, to an extent, but still true. We have all talked about it, irrespective of where we come from and where we live. Externalising the problem is how we humans deal with unpalatable issues. I have done it, and I am sure, so have you; organisations do it as do countries. But whether at home or in business we have to accept that when we have a problem, it ’s not always someone else’s fault.
I think, when talking about employment, it is essential to distinguish between the unemployed and the unemployable. The unemployed are available for work but don’t have or can’t find a job currently. And then you have the unemployable: Those who make themselves unfit for employment through attitude, lack of skills, unwillingness to learn and so on.
Whether a person is ultimately employable depends in no small extent on the education he or she has received. And the education system in many countries exists in a bubble, totally oblivious of the changing world around it.
In school in India, I always believed that the highest honours went to the student with the best memorising capabilities. Things are quite similar here. I am often amazed at the mark sheets of students – everyone seems to be in the nineties club, and surprisingly this holds true for higher education as well. I am equally amazed at the pressure teachers are under to have their students pass their exams with high marks. Why? A little bit of a set down never hurt anybody.
A foundation that rests primarily on memorisation cannot prepare you to cope with the realities of the workplace. I have seen certificates of students with 90 per cent and above, but it is in no way representative of their ability to do the job. They are not to blame in the least. The fact that they came out of a system with that certificate thinking that that piece of paper says they are ready to work, is where the problem lies.
When a fresh graduate in IT thinks he can take over the IT department in an organisation, he doesn’t know better. No one told the young girl in hospitality management that a degree wouldn’t let her immediately replace the Hyatt ’s general manager in Muscat because she was Omani.
In times of stress or pressure, there is always a greater urge to externalise a problem. It’s easy to hate the corner-shop guy, who over the years has been quietly buying up a lot of the neighbourhood. He kept his shop open, day and night and even on Sundays when he started. He worked hard and provided a service that you couldn’t or were not willing to. So it ’s hardly fair to say ‘if only they weren’t here, that (amazing job, car, girl?) would be mine’.
There’s no point in complaining that others are taking your place but realise instead that jobs follow basic economic precepts.
An organisation, that is not a government body or subsidised in any way, cannot base its salary structure on what the employee needs. It has to be based on what its products and services are worth and how it can sustain and grow its value.
I now repeat the much-repeated formula: Experience counts, your skills count, your ability to take on responsibility counts. What doesn’t, or shouldn’t, matter is nationality. Aiming high is good, but over-thinking career strategy to reach the top is not. My experience has been that when you spend more time working on what’s best for the other (be it your family or your job), you will realise that it works out best for you too. If you are good at what you do, you will succeed (without any footnotes), and despite anything the universe may throw at you.
And a lesson our kids need to learn for sure is that starting at the bottom is not a bad thing: When you reach the top you will know for yourself how strong the foundations are.