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Media storm ensues over Hurd’s remarks about young people

August 23, 2013

By Tania Mason

 

Nick Hurd

Nick Hurd

Nick Hurd found himself caught up in a storm of controversy on Twitter this morning after the Daily Mail published a headline quoting him saying that young people today lack the ‘grit’ to get jobs.

The Mail headline stated: ‘Young lack the grit to get jobs: Too many school leavers aren’t fit for work, says minister’.

The minister for civil society, who also recently assumed ministerial responsibility for youth policy and strategy after the remit was shifted from the Department for Education to the Cabinet Office, immediately turned to Twitter to defend himself against the Mail headline, and claim he had been misrepresented.

He tweeted: “Daily Mail headline misrepresents an important point. It is employers raising concerns about how work ready many young people are….The headline suggests I am criticising teenagers. I would never do that. They are growing up in an ever more complex and challenging world.”

The story itself has Hurd stating that too many young people are leaving school with “crushingly low” self-confidence and poor social skills, and that these things are just as important as good grades in the job market.

he TimesDaily Telegraph and Guardian all published their own versions of the story too.

But several Twitter users had their own views about his remarks, and lost no time highlighting Hurd’s own privileged background and private education.

David Wilcock wrote: “Young people lack the ‘grit’ needed in the workplace says MP who did Eton/Oxford before following dad into Commons.”

Teacher_dude said: “More BS from UK govt’s Eton Mob. This time blaming the young for being unemployed.”

Comedian Mitch Benn tweeted: “If you don’t have the grit or gumption to be born into a rich & important family, you’ve no one to blame but yourself.”

The Mail reported Hurd’s remarks after the Office for National Statistics published new figures showing that 1.09 million 16 to 24-year-olds were classified as Neet during the first three months of this year.

Hurd also used the article to praise the National Citizen Service programme for 16- and 17-year-olds following a visit to an NCS camp last week. He said the programme was “not a silver bullet” but did have an “amazing impact” on many participants: “There’s a definite before-and-after effect in terms of their ability to articulate and present themselves,” he said of one recent cohort.

Hurd did not mention that police were called to two separate incidents at NCS camps last week, but the Cabinet Office confirmed to civilsociety.co.uk that this was true. Click here for more on this. Read more at Civil Society.

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