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Saturday, 6 April 2013

A tale of our time

I know lots of young people who are going through a very tough time finding jobs after graduating, many of them with high quality degrees and ending up without work even after zillions of internships, but this article in yesterday's Evening Standard really struck a nerve/chord.
The family of an academic who fell to his death after he could only find a job in a call centre today spoke of their devastation.
Dr Philip Elliott, 31, who had recently completed a PhD in artificial intelligence at Reading University, fell from scaffolding at a block of flats.
The scientist, who was a qualified engineer, was described as a “high academic achiever”, but was “frustrated and unhappy” about his professional life, an inquest heard.In the weeks before his death he had received “a number of blows to his confidence” which had an impact on his morale, Westminster coroner Darren Stewart said.
On January 27, he climbed scaffolding in Cromwell Street, Kensington. Passers-by called the police, fearing he was going to jump and officers arrived within five minutes but were advised not to talk him down because it was too dangerous to get on to the scaffolding.
An hour later, he made a gesture with his arms and “dived” to the ground, said Mr Stewart.
Today, his mother Patricia, from Rossendale, Lancashire, said: “We are shocked and devastated at the news. Such a waste of a young life with all his future ahead of him. He was so well thought of. He would help everybody.”She said that he could only get a call centre job was indicative of “these times of recession”.
Recording a narrative verdict, Mr Stewart said he was not sure beyond reasonable doubt that Dr  Elliott meant to take his own life because the fall could have been a “cry for help”.
Now the bit that really touches a nerve is the last sentence  Here we have a fine example of someone on the public sector payroll who doesn't understand or doesn't want to admit that he is part of the problem.  Of course it isn't a cry for help.  The guy has gone through 25 years of education for no reward, and he knows that the speed that he will hit the concrete is sqrt(2gh) because he is an engineer, and he knows that is going to kill him.

He has also realised that he is not going to get a job worth having because nobody in their right mind is going to invest in Europe while there is a vast overhang of taxes that will have to be levied to pay for the deficits run up by the government, and that isn't going to go away until everyone in the public sector, and that includes the coroner, has taken a massive pay cut.

If they don't, expect many more Dr Philip Elliotts.

More in a similar vein at the Register here.

1 comment:

Kemi said...

Really sad. I suspect he felt a phD would make him more marketable, but my personal observations from studying Comp.Sci are that you just fall behind your peers in the job market. Employers value work experience more than additional qualifications.

Best to do it in something you are REALLY interested in, or get a job first and go back and do it later. Or stay in academia.

No one I know with a phD ever got better jobs because of it. Instead, they just got told they were over-qualified for everything, by HR and recruitment agencies and were forced to start at grad-level like the rest of us.

He should have moved to Germany.

Not sure AI is a field demand these days.
You would expect him to be working in a google or simiar, but v.v. competitive. I wonder how many UK companies are doing any serious R&D in that area.