Fi Glover presents Generations Apart, the series that tracks people from two very different generations, which returns to Radio 4 on Wed 16 Jan at 9am.

    Putting Generations Apart together is like a massive jigsaw puzzle. Not one of those ones with huge amounts of blue sky and an annoying lake that’s almost the same colour, but definitely one that has something that appears to be an ever changing vista in the middle. 

    Fi Glover

    Over a dozen participants are involved – people from two generations (clue’s in the title....), two producers, me and a whole heap of rail tickets to take us up and down the country to see how the lives of our 20 somethings are comparing to the lives of our baby boomers.

    That’s why, on a September morning, I was heading out to Purley to see 66 year old Carol, who by now I regard as a radio friend. Last time we met, she was on quite perky form considering the fact that she was about to lose her job at Gatwick airport and was in the process of getting a divorce. Blonde, bold, funny and with a sports car to prove it, Carol struck me as a lovely force of life. But not so much this time around – unable to find much work last year, she almost lost the house, her arrears put her in court – she brought herself back from the financial brink and is now looking for a much smaller place near her daughter.

    So if you ever thought that retirement is full of those smiley people on the balcony of their ocean view stateroom on the SS Supervirus then this programme will wrench you back to reality – and that’s what I love about it – the defying of stereotypes. After catching up with Carol I’m off to meet Hayley over in Staines - single mum of two, she had her first son when she was just 16.  Is she living off the state, hanging out with a bunch of feckless alco pop swigging numpties? No. Open University degree, cooking carrots for tea. I can’t wait to see how life turns out for her in the next few years. 

    And over in Wales (I did mean it about the train tickets....) one of the highlights was seeing Ffion again- a delightful 20 something, university degree in hand who then upped sticks to take a job as a holiday rep in Turkey after feeling the bell jar of hometown boredom setting in with her first job – teaching down the road from the family home. And yes, she has got pictures of herself covered in mud for some holiday rep competition. We’ve all got one of those haven’t we? 

    The point of the series is to ask what has changed between the generations for those making the transition to adulthood and blimey – the answer is so, so much. Our baby boomers were supported by the welfare state – born after the war with the hardship and optimism that brought.  But this younger generation has a tantalising world of technology at their fingertips, but very few real opportunities for many.

    You’ll catch up with all of these peeps and more for the next few years - an intermittent beacon in your radio world - but I find myself thinking about them often... how are they, how was their Christmas, what is in store for newly wed Ricky in 2013, will clever ex journo David ever really retire and put his feet up? And has anyone seen the piece in the middle that completes the picture...? Not yet... but I hope you can join us for our programmes this week to hear just how much we’ve managed to put together...

     

    Generations Apart is back on Wed 16 Jan at 9am on BBC Radio 4.

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    • Comment number 9. Posted by Rasmus

      on 18 Jan 2013 18:06

      I live in Oxshott and I remember a chap who once employed 500 people saying to me ' I'm not saying there's no money to be made in engineering, just that I'm not going to do it any more'. I hope you find the key piece in your jigsaw.

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    • Comment number 8. Posted by Giles

      on 18 Jan 2013 12:40

      I agree with Chris Smith, for someone seeking a career in journalism, Abi's standard of grammar and diction was disappointingly poor, peppered with endless in-fills of 'kind of'; 'like', 'you know' etc. It is no wonder that employers are becoming increasingly less impressed with Universality education when we consistently find that students graduate with lower standards than would have been required to qualify for a place years ago. Abi unfortunately sounded more like a 16 year old rather than a potential employee in her final year of an English based course.

      Surely in this case, the University course itself has to be questioned by the students and industry alike? Our Universities must fill seats to survive and if they can fill a course on Origami, it seems they will. Naturally students believe that there must be a job for them if there is course and all too often only realise that they are destined for disappointment when finally seeking work.

      When graduate youth unemployment is discussed, I have never heard the student asked if they ever researched the employment potential of their preferred course before they spend a lifetime's debt on a saturated qualification. How many graduates do we need in media, golf course management, landscaping, photography etc. Was Abi ever informed that most journalists are experienced professionals that have turned to writing? How many employers are looking for graduates in Harry Potter and the Age of Illusion from Durham University? 80 Students signed up when it started in 2010.

      It is difficult for the youth of today, we would all like to be spacemen or fashion designers perhaps, but it would be more valuable to hear of the problems of students with qualifications more aligned to the employment world.

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    • Comment number 7. Posted by 4TheUnder30s

      on 17 Jan 2013 22:18

      Hi Fi,

      Thank you for your time making the programme it’s because of shows like yours that I enjoy radio 4 so much. I hope this makes people think about the struggles my generation (I am 23) face in what for many is a depressing climate.

      To hear about young people being exploited and used to subsidise businesses with unpaid internships is ... sad. I think a short unpaid internship for a few months to show how committed you are to your industry is fine but to hear that some are doing 30 before being given a chance is ridiculous.

      Young people are the future of this country. This seems an obvious statement but I worry about the number of people my age who are slowly losing hope. What impact will that have on their ability to contribute in the future?

      Please continue to show people the efforts that my generation are going to and what we have to struggle against to get there.

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    • Comment number 6. Posted by C

      on 16 Jan 2013 13:54

      Should a journalist who says "so little jobs" be appointed? Another two terms for her to learn some basic grammatical rules it seems. Perhaps she was just nervous when interviewed.

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    • Comment number 5. Posted by sms2323

      on 16 Jan 2013 11:55

      An interesting and thought provoking programme.

      I can’t work out whether I’m optimistic about Gen Y’s prospects or pessimistic…

      On the positive side there is indicative evidence that Gen Yers are enterprising: a YouGov poll by the Adam Smith Institute in August 2012 showed that half of 18-24 year olds (49%) agree that they would like to run their own business at some stage. This intention drops with age.

      Less positively UK Gen Yers need to earn twice the salary to match their parents lifestyle according to a First Direct survey from 2011. They are trapped by financial pressure (not fecklessness) into delaying key life stages.

      It’s a complex mosaic of facts and figures: I've summed up my thoughts on the issues here http://cmym.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/its-not-all-doom-and-gloom-positive-characteristics-of-generation-y/

      Cheers

      Simon

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    • Comment number 4. Posted by hampsteadann

      on 16 Jan 2013 11:46

      Dear Fi
      I dont recognise the world described for 'babyboomers'. I left art school in 1962, as one of the top students, having completed a 3-year course in graphic design. I hit the road ready to get a great job, having lined up numerous interviews with art directors in ad agencies. They enthused about my portfolio, before apologising profusely about the fact that they simply did not employ women in their creative departments; one of them even said 'all hell would break loose if I brought a woman into the studios'. Yes, folks - full-on sex discrimination!
      After hauling my portfolio all over London, I eventually had to settle for a job in a 3rd rate outfit, and count myself exceedingly lucky. To get anywhere one needed contacts, and at that point I had none.
      And I'm white. But if you happened to be non-white you were lucky to get anything... job, accommodation, bank account - all doors were slammed in your face.
      A few years later - no pill, unwanted pregnancy. Without the money to pay for an illegal termination, one HAD to get married; having an illegimate child was not an option, it was professional and social death.
      And then the next hurdle - renting accommodation and the iniquities of 'key money', literally huge sums to obtain the key. And if one wanted to buy a shoebox flat - try getting a mortgage, ha!

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    • Comment number 3. Posted by Kentrandall

      on 16 Jan 2013 11:01

      Interesting programme but the elephant in the room was the unspoken word - immigration. There was none to speak of in the sixties but over the period of the last Government total immigration amounted to 3.2 million which compares against current unemployment of 2.5 million. Immigation cannot be undone but ignoring it entirely over the whole length of the programme is concerning.

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    • Comment number 2. Posted by KReativ

      on 16 Jan 2013 09:53

      Having just listened to the show (16 Jan) I was surprised by the casualness that 'internships' or working for free was accepted. I was under the impression that it was illegal to provide useful work to an employer without being paid AT LEAST the minimum wage. I am aware that charities and genuine work experience (shadowing etc) are exempted.

      'Internships' may be acceptable in the USA, but the UK is not in the USA (yet?). What, if any, loophole in the legislation are employers exploiting? Why aren't the authorities prosecuting?

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    • Comment number 1. Posted by Doc Richard

      on 16 Jan 2013 09:34

      Unemployment hits everyone hard, but it is especially hard on the young, who, as you mention, are scarred by the experience of being unwanted, economically.

      It is wrong to have millions damaged by idleness when there is so much good, constructive work lying there waiting to be done. A simple tweak to the benefit rules which allows people on JSA to take up work which has been accredited as beneficial to society or the environment, without losing their benefit, could get up to two million people, young and old, into good work. Without compulsion.

      There's a brief introduction here: http://www.greenhealth.org.uk/GreenWageSubsidy.htm
      It's radical stuff, but in the present economic situation, we need out of the box thinking.

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