Could the way we used to do it help young people succeed at their jobs?

I’m often surprised by young workers who can’t count money properly or communicate effectively. A report from the Australian Industry
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I’m often surprised by young workers who can’t count money properly or communicate effectively. A report from the Australian Industry Group has said there is “hardly a workplace in the country unaffected”.

These trends have got me wondering, what ever happened to on-the-job training and cadetships? Couldn’t these training methods better equip young people for work and life?

Don’t get me wrong, I like young people. I have met many young people who contribute to their workplaces and local community wonderfully. However, their education seems to be lacking in some basic skill sets.

The Australian Industry Group found that nine out of ten bosses complain about staff who can’t calculate orders, submit written work riddled with spelling errors, or give confusing directions to their colleagues.

AIG Chief Executive Innes Wilcox believes these results show a “deepening concern about the level of foundation skills in the workforce and a continuing drag on the nation’s productivity”.

I’ve often encountered young people in the workplace who have numerous degrees, diplomas and certificates. Despite this, they struggle to complete basic tasks, think independently or demonstrate initiative.

I believe some of this boils down to modern-day education: Too often the focus is black and white, right or wrong. Today’s universities don’t allow for lots of free thought, instead they create thousands of minds who think alike.

Back in my youth, my first job involved a massive learning curve. I was taught customer service, cash-handling skills and clear communication. Eventually, I began a traineeship as a junior court clerk.

My education was not in university lecture theatres, but instead in the workplace. I quickly learned about office hierarchies, filing, typing and developed many other life skills.

It seems that some young people are skipping this important step. They often enter workplaces with a sense of entitlement, since they’ve spent years at tertiary education.

The Federal Education Minister said: “Key to the success of this and future generations of young Australians is in having an excellent grasp of literacy and numeracy”.

I believe on-the-job training and cadetships would certainly help improve Australia’s working prospects. That’s what was so beneficial in my day, anyway. Do you agree with me?

Would you like to see young Australians undergo more on-the-job training? Do you think this would better prepare young people for the workplace? Did you complete a cadetship?


  1. I agree wholeheartedly, we have thousands of over qualified juniors who cannot speak correctly…on the job training would give them practical abilities.

  2. The nursing career instantly comes to mind. It is now an academic course, where once upon a time it was based on on the job training. In the old version you learned people skills, learning to recognise when a kind word and touch of a hand was worth more than any pain pill.

    • I trained as a radiographer and went on to work on Nuclear Medicine. I trained in a large teaching hospital and worked in the hospital while training. I frequently had university trained students doing their “clinical studies”. Some did well academically but we’re totally lacking in common sense and empathy. Some I thought would learn these others never would. I also had some very good students who were willing to learn. I have no problem with these courses now being university based as nowadays everything is becoming more technical, but I think that clinical training should be a bigger and more important element of the course.

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  4. Are these the same employers that don’t value older employees? I think the kids today are amazing, but they come into the workforce thinking they know it all. You can’t tell them anything. Such a shame, because I always felt that we could both learn from each other. As for basic literacy and numeracy – they were considered essential when we were at school, but they don’t seem to matter now. I waited 5 minutes in the newsagent this week because the computer froze and the young man behind the counter couldn’t work out what to charge me. I had two items! I had the correct money in my hand the whole time, but he insisted on finding a calculator to check

    • I can relate to that, I went to the Supermarket and I added up the cost of the items before the young checkout chick had a to punch the numbers in, she asked me How did you do that !! I was open mouthed, it is just simple basic math

    • Oh how I hated mental arithmetic at school, but all these decades later I still use it almost daily.

  5. Mist employers won’t hire without the degree and 2 years experience. They don’t want to bother training people. Hard to blame the young people when it is us who changed the rules.

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  7. I guess we’ve ‘advanced’ too far to return to mental arithmetic and learning by rote!

  8. Jayjen  

    A young supermarket checkout girl refused the $2.05 when offered a $20 note for a $12.05 total bill. She stumbled and fumbled and said ok I will take the 5 cents. She later told me she was an economics student at university. Simple maths and English are no longer basic requirements apparently. And with out teachers needing only very average tertiary wualifications I just wonder where we are headed. Most young people are wonderful btw.

    • Jayjen  

      Forgive spelling errors in my post. Battling hand numbness currently.

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