An educated guess at their prospects
A DAD'S LIFE:I’m hit by the first wave of future shock, writes ADAM BROPHY
I HAD MY first “concerned” college conversation recently. All it took was an inquiry as to whether we’d rather the kids, if they do go on to third level, and it’s not like there are a raft of jobs out there to entice them to do otherwise, to commute from home or leave the nest completely.
It’s the type of consideration that can be biased by emotional factors, especially as they’re far from done with even primary school yet. But, if I were an organised, forward-planning kinda guy, this is the type of consideration for which we would have measures already in place. We don’t. I imagine the week before they start we’ll be hunting down the back of the couch for registration money.
As I discussed their future living arrangements, I expressed the hope that a wand would appear out of the sky, wave itself in our general direction and perform miracles on tuition fees and accommodation costs, because otherwise I can’t see how it will happen.
So, kids, that’s about the sum of it. If you want a third-level education, start stashing Granny’s birthday money underneath couch cushions for later use, or pray for a sky genie who’s sympathetic to your learning needs. Otherwise, practise very hard at your guitar and start an all-conquering band. The odds would seem stacked in favour of a career as a rock god.
Except they’re not. Just because I can’t see how we’ll work it out does not mean we won’t figure it out. Just because every penny we earn right now is used to provide for them, at a period in their lives that, compared at least to the creche years and the college years, is supposed to be cheap, does not mean we won’t manage when the time comes.
To some this may seem irresponsible. I know of plenty of households run with the type of attention to detail that would make a drill sergeant wince. They have an array of pension plans, college funds, life assurance insurance, reassurance funds and insurance on their health insurance. Often, they are not the households most flush with cash, but the ones who most like to future proof.
The only proof I have of a future is that the sun rose the last few million mornings, so I guess it will continue to do so. But, with the next few budgets promising Apocalypto, I wouldn’t stake my best wedding shirt on it shining on the same playing field as it does today.
The latest fear to grip a large portion of us stretched middle-class parents seems to be that, even if we do rummage up enough spare change to drag the offspring through college, there won’t be a sniff of a job waiting for them on graduation. Nearly 40 per cent of our under-25s are unemployed: it’s the boat for them whatever we do.
Again, I’m not losing sleep over this. You can’t future- proof for a job. If they have to go, I will miss them terribly. I long for them to have access to the most satisfying, best paid career, five miles up the road. One in which they could invent a mode of time travel and market it to the masses, meet their future spouse and go on to breed me a pile of gurning grandchildren. That won’t happen. They may well have to leave the country, and that may well be hard for them and an ongoing trial for the country.
All I can do is beat into them the belief that if they want something, whether it be a job or to live near their daddy, they’d better figure out a way to get that thing. They’d better identify what’s needed to make their desires a reality, plot a path to attaining what’s required, and make the best case for why they should receive what they covet. If they are willing to do that, there is no reason why they shouldn’t get what they want. No matter what the Stones said.
All they need to know is that it’s competitive out there and nobody owes them a damn thing. There will be plenty of other kids willing to put themselves on the line in whatever arena they choose, whether that be a place on the Irish equestrian team or a call centre position in Mumbai. They’ll need their game face on when they get out there.
My job is to figure out how to get them to the starting gate. I’m confident I’ll manage that, but there are no guarantees. Their job is to figure out what to do then.