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Comment: Beauty and the beast


ShooterOrganisations are shooting themselves in the foot by choosing the best looking job candidates, instead of the best skilled. By tapping into the current of our celebrity-obsessed society, everyone will loose out, says Gemma Middleton.

Over the past month two main stories have caught my eye; the first being that in a survey which asked 2,266 UK employers if they had ever given a job to someone because they were the most attractive candidate, 88% of respondents said yes.

The second was a survey carried out by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). They asked their members if they thought celebrities were harmful to a child's education – the results stated that over a third of respondents believed that their pupils wanted to be famous just for being famous, with a further 32% adding that many of their pupils modelled themselves on Paris Hilton.

For decades, young children have looked up to celebrities, aspiring to be just like them, as they seem to have it all – the looks, the money and the lifestyle. The main difference between now and 10 years ago is that more people are famous for no real reason - apart from being quite good looking and willing to let their behaviour (normally bad) be used as tabloid fodder.

Photo of Gemma Middleton"By choosing only employees who are seen to be good looking in society, the talent pool is being dramatically reduced."

Celebrity as a commodity is a business in itself, with magazines, websites and retail organisations desperate to use them to make money and gain recognition for their products. However, this is only possible because we, the public, are becoming more and more obsessed about the notion of celebrity. Is this healthy for our society?

As the Leitch review stated last year, the skills gap between what young people are currently attaining and the required level of skills businesses need is widening, which many argue is already having a negative impact on society. The ATL's survey also highlighted that many children do not realise the hard work that is needed to become a true celebrity, resulting in young people becoming disillusioned about the real world. This results in them being unprepared for the world of work, as they don't put the necessary effort into reading, writing and numeracy.

However, the skills gap and disillusioned youngsters are not the only things harming the UK employment market: organisations are shooting themselves in the foot as well. By choosing only employees who are seen to be good looking in society, the talent pool is being dramatically reduced. The list of reasons why this is inappropriate is endless but mainly it just goes against common sense - just because a person is good looking does not mean they are necessarily right for the job.

Both of these issues can and will harm UK industry as the costs will be carried by organisations who have to invest in raising skill levels of poorly educated individuals and deal with the repercussions of employing wrong candidates. This is why it is imperative that they are addressed now.

"Children do not realise the hard work that is needed to become a true celebrity, resulting in young people becoming disillusioned about the real world."

Many people blame today's media for the popularity of celebrities and growing importance placed on good looks. The media today are quick to exploit and report on celebrities behaving badly such as Amy Winehouse's well-known drug addiction or any d-list celebrity falling drunk out of a club, barely clothed with a torrential stream of abuse flying out of their mouth. Yet when they do good work such as representing charities and supporting good causes, this news is hidden within the publication or not even covered at all, even though these actions truly benefit society.

It is because of this type of reporting that the media come under fire - yet if society didn't demand to know the intricate details of Jordan's latest night out or the relationship status of Cheryl and Ashley Cole then more worthy and inspiring news and role models would be reported on.

It is not only the media that need to change but us as a society. After all, do we really want future generations to be completely superficial? Personally I think not.

Gemma Middleton is a communications specialist
At Righttrack Consultancy. For more information about Righttrack go to:

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