Philip Whiteley's Blog

December 9, 2010

How did the work ethic die?

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 12:39 pm

A rise of 200,000 in the number of people in the UK who have never worked has been recorded (Department for Work & Pensions, 7 December), while an estimated 70 per cent of new jobs created in the past decade were taken by immigrant workers (OECD study, reported Daily Mail 1 July 2009). Meanwhile, tens of thousands of young people queue for long hours for the chance to appear on X Factor and become a singing star. Simon Cowell openly defends the talent show as a way of helping people move away from their day jobs. Would-be stars with an ‘unfashionable’ job, such as Mary Byrne working at Tesco, are quite openly mocked. A rise in university tuition fees could make entering shows like the X Factor even more appealing.

In the 1950s-1960s, the most popular future careers cited by children were typically doctor, nurse and pilot. Now, they are more likely to be singer, footballer or actor[1].

Are we losing the work ethic in this country? In Meet the New Boss, I argue that decades of negative messages about regular careers and ‘the day job’ have seeped into popular attitudes and have turned many impressionable young people away from study and ambition. There are profound challenges for teachers, parents and employers, who need to persuade people that regular careers can be more fulfilling and rewarding than showbiz or sport.

  • Meet the New Boss is a self-published book. It is available in Kindle format at and It has been shortlisted in the category Digital Management Book of the Year by the Chartered Management Institute in association with the British Library. The winner will be announced on 25 January 2011. Details at:
    Free excerpts are available at my website:

[1] Preferred choices for children in 2009: 1) Famous footballer, 2) Actress, 3) Pop star, 4) Teacher, 5) Vet.
Preferred careers that adults in same poll had wanted as children: 1) Teacher, 2) Nurse, 3) Pilot, 4) Doctor, 5) Famous footballer.
Source: Sky News, 4 July 2009.


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: