While on family duty over the recent half term holiday, I was forced to sit down and watch The Inbetweeners for the first time. When it comes to TV sitcoms, I'm more of an 'Allo! 'Allo! man, and must admit it had never crossed my mind to sit down and experience life through the eyes of Will, Jay, Simon and Neil.
In the show, the quartet bumble their way through sixth form trapped in a social no man's land, not cool enough to be accepted by the popular kids, not studious enough to find acceptance from the more geeky pupils.
On the long drive home, my mind drifted back to the show. The first series originally aired more than five years ago, and in real life those characters would probably have all filtered their way through universities and apprenticeships and found themselves in the place of work by now.
How would they be getting on? While it's a more grown-up environment, much like the playground, the workplace is carved up into groups of people. There are many ways of grouping people, including friendships, ranking within the organization and age.
The focus on young and old
It was recently announced that there are 1.1 million workers over the age of 65 in the UK, double the amount we had in 1992. This has forced businesses to re-think previously outdated attitudes to older workers. Within the L&D industry, for example, we have seen a significant surge in interest from businesses in training their older workers.
At the same time, many decision-makers I've been speaking with have needed to increase the amount of training for new starters. While university fees can now be around £9,000 a year (more than the cost of an entire three-year degree a few years ago), many businesses are finding graduates who turn up at the workplace able to fully function in the world of academia, but not prepared for the daily realities of working life. Our own research, conducted with 500 UK CEOs, shows that more than half (54 per cent) believe the current education system is failing future workers.
Don't cut out the middle man
It's great that businesses are focusing on these two polar opposites, but what about the people in the middle? Surely they deserve the same investment in skills development as everybody else?
If you're at that stage of your career, you could well be looking to progress through the middle-management ranks to one day become a C-Level executive. You need to factor the training prospects an employer offers into your choice of place to work. Lots of other people are: according to our own research, more than half (54 per cent) of 23-34 year olds leaving a job due to lack of training and career development prospects.
Training is fun
When the Inbetweeners lads have a free period, they seem to gravitate towards the common room, where they have to avoid bullies tying them up and putting bins on their heads, and inevitable unjust tickings-off from head of sixth form, Mr Gilbert. They are crying out for something to occupy this time vacuum.
Workplace inbetweeners need training not only to chase promotions, but also because they enjoy the learning process -- it ensures there are no 'free periods' where they can get into a spot of bother. Our research shows that 72 per cent of 35-44 year olds find training fun.
Your fun time at work is worth fighting for -- and we have research to explain the value your training will bring to an employer. Inbetweeners are likely to stay at an organization long enough to make immediate use of those new skills (45 per cent of 35-44 year olds will stay for two to five years). With this value guarantee for employers, there is no reason you should continue to be punished for not being an old or young worker.