Social Skirmishes: Rosie Warlock on children’s career aspirations

Social Skirmishes

Rosie Warlock, a senior practitioner in children’s social services, tells us what’s on her mind

This article published in the 11 September 2008 edition of Community Care

● My father used to tell my brother: “Son, don’t be like me and become a lorry driver.” He was away so much he often got my brothers mixed up. But despite the confusion, the message was the same, he didn’t want any of us to follow in his career footsteps.

The topic of children’s jobs sometimes pops up in the office. Very rarely do the siblings want to become social workers. If they want to care for people, they choose nursing or the police. A few become high-powered individuals giving their social work parents something to drone on about in the office.

Then you visit your clients and talk to their children and you can see the gulf in expectations between the white collar salariat – us middle class social workers – and the working or underclass.

There are the dreams of childhood – footballer, singer, actor. Then there are the jobs done by a relative that the young children like: “I want to work in the North Sea like Uncle Bob”, and I want to work on cars like Uncle Bert.

These fade when they attend school. Some, by skill and determination, do end up in their ideal profession: music or even sports. Others, the more troublesome kids, fall into crime never reach “TV gangster level” and are in and out of custody like yo-yos into their twenties.

But the great swathe of intelligent, hardworking and caring children end up in dead end jobs because of social reasons – class, education, ethnicity and so on. Their talents are a lost to themselves and to society.

Now, that makes me angry.

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