Along with much of Britain over the last week, we’ve been shocked to see the riots in London, Birmingham and other cities in the UK.

Their underlying cause has led to an enormous amount of speculation across the media, with pundits trying to work out why, and how, this apparent uprising has occurred.

London Riots

It’s fairly clear that in many cases it’s opportunism, pure and simple – but those who do attempt to justify their actions to themselves have often blamed the apathy towards them, and the lack of jobs available to them.

Now it wouldn’t be fair to generalise – of course there are examples of extreme hardship in many areas of the UK, where it’s almost inevitable that this type of apathy will grow.

However, there is no justification for the sort of violence – and in some cases, outright cruelty – that has occurred this week, and from our perspective (and presumably that of many other recruiters and HR professionals) the “lack of jobs” excuse seems to us something of a cop out.

One of the main challenges that recruitment and HR professionals face is that of making candidates turn up for interviews, and, if they’re successful, on their first day at work. It’s frankly incredible to us that, given the current economic situation both locally and globally, candidates perfectly qualified to work and offered the opportunity to do so, choose not to.

It’s a vicious cycle – the culture of apathy that comes from a lack of self-respect and pride leads to candidates simply “dropping out” – not just of interviews, but of their prospective futures, and of society as a whole. It’s endemic in the culture, and it’s almost impossible to tackle without a full-scale change in the way these societies develop.

As Patrick Regan, a London social worker, said this week:

“Hopeful kids don’t join gangs. Hopeful kids don’t riot. You are not born angry. Something obviously has gone wrong. That’s why we need to have long-term solutions that tackle the drivers of those issues.”

Obviously this is a national, political and social issue – it’s something that needs to change throughout the country, and throughout our culture. But having a job needs to become the preferred option to a lifetime on the dole – if not for the economy, or any other reason than for the self-respect and pride of those who – rightly or wrongly – feel trapped at the bottom of a society that just doesn’t understand or care.

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