Random Guesswork is All that Makes Up the Government’s New ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ Campaign and Quiz

Random Guesswork is All that Makes Up the Government’s New ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ Campaign and Quiz

Earlier this month, the UK government announced a new campaign to encourage people in struggling industries to retrain in areas which they stated had more job opportunities. Titled “Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.”, the main initial focus of the campaign was to divert people onto government-funded courses for cyber security training.

Rishi Sunak, the government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, was at the forefront of the campaign, and warned that the Coronavirus pandemic would force many people to adapt to find work opportunities. But not to worry, Rishi and Boris have got it covered with these new funded courses.

Seems like a pretty good deal, right? Not exactly.

The campaign itself, in particular its marketing posters, were a cause of outrage amongst those working in creative industries. Why? Because the main poster for the campaign features Fatima the ballerina, whose next job could be in cyber (she just doesn’t know it yet).

The image of Fatima has been largely criticised for the way it depicts jobs in the arts industry, with many saying it promotes the idea that they aren’t to be taken seriously compared to other types of jobs. This campaign would disregard the years of training and funding required to hone these skills and enter this industry by indicating that people can be more valuable members of society by doing something else. As a result, the ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ campaign has been labelled ‘disrespectful’ and out of touch by many famous names within creative industries including Liam Gallagher, Sam Fender, Sue Perkins, and Lily Allen.

Consequently, while the initial intention of ‘Rethink. Reskill. Reboot.’ may have been to encourage anyone to take part in the newly offered cyber security courses, its execution has led the campaign to be a source of ridicule and offence.

Alongside the new posters, the Department of Education have been promoting their DYSAC (Discover Your Careers and Skills) quiz which claims to enable people to find and explore careers which match their interests, motivations, and preferences.

However, people have remarked how results seem random and out of context from any previous training or experience. Additionally, many of the jobs suggested fall into the category of troubled industries such as the arts or tourism – industries which were suggested we turn away from in this current climate. So, while everyone is being encouraged to adapt and find new ways of getting back to work, the suggestions so far have not been promising.

Charlie’s next job could be in football refereeing (she just doesn’t know it yet)

I decided to try out the government’s DYSAC test, so that I could see for myself how they were trying to match people to certain careers.

To put this into some perspective, I’ll tell you a bit about myself. I’m Charlie, a recent graduate and current Arts Editor here at Mouthing Off. I studied History of Art at university, and plan on undertaking a master’s at some point next year. Ideally, I’d like to pursue a career in writing and editing, but with Corona on the table who knows how this will go?

I would say I fall somewhere between the academic and creative fields, but I’m open to career opportunities in other industries if it seems like something I would enjoy and excel in.

However, I was still extremely sceptical about the DYSAC test- and for good reason, too. Many of the questions asked were overly general, vague, and did little to find anything out about you or your previous experiences. It has made me think that the profiles created for the jobs in the DYSAC database are also based on vague generalisations and stereotypes rather than actual people who do these jobs.

I had a lot of categories to choose from in my results, which I was initially pleasantly surprised by. But to my horror, my top result was ‘Sports and Leisure’, and under that was the job title ‘Football Referee’.

No, I am not joking.

Considering my complete lack of interest in sports and general clumsiness, the career path of a Football Referee was not one I had considered for myself.

Other suggestions were just as bizarre, including the roles ‘Tax Adviser’, ‘Coroner’, ‘Hotel Room Attendant’, and ‘Leather Technologist’ (yes, I had to look up what that last one was too).

Far down the list under ‘Creative and Media’ was ‘Editorial Assistant’, but by this point I was pretty irritated with my suggested career choices. With the career I wanted buried at the bottom of the list, I couldn’t really say that quiz had been entirely successful for me.

I also asked some friends and members of the Mouthing Off team to try out the quiz, whose reactions followed a similar process to my own.

Two friends of mine who recently completed their master’s qualifications in Biological Sciences received the results of ‘Meat Process Worker’, ‘Sailing Instructor’, ‘Fish Farmer’, ‘Horse Groomer’, ‘Kennel Worker, and ‘Astronomer’. It’s safe to say neither of them have pursed these careers since their graduation.

At Mouthing Off, our Resident Artists Molly Lambourn and Rebekka Katajisto were suggested to pursue new careers as a ‘Professional Boxer’, ‘Business Adviser’, ‘Airline Pilot’, or ‘Probation Services Officer’. Our Editor-in-Chief Gregory Segal was also told he should try out as a ‘Football Referee’, or maybe a ‘Lifeguard’ or ‘Fitness Instructor’.

Funnily enough, I don’t see anyone I spoke to taking up their suggested careers.

Time to Reskill?

Honest answer: no.

As indicated, the results given through DYSAC appear random because they are based on vague generalisations of the people who do these jobs. Just because I like working in a team and can give people direction when needed does not mean I should coach football. And while the government may have been trying to open up their cyber security to all groups of people, I’m not sure starting with the arts was the best place to go when many in the industry have already felt victimised enough during Covid. Sorry Fatima.

Additionally, an article by The Guardian highlighted a description of the service from the Department of Education, who said:

“The National Careers Service provides free, up to date, impartial information, advice and guidance on careers, skills and the labour market, across England, to anyone over the age of 13.”

Department of Education (quoted by The Guardian)

However, when I went on the website to take the test, there was a clear disclaimer about the limits of the advice that could be given by the test- and the limit was evidently quite a big one:

“Discover your skills and careers launched in August 2019, before COVID-19. It helps you explore careers based on your interests, preferences and motivations. It will suggest some careers to help you to think about the range of opportunities available to you. If your results are in a sector that has been affected by COVID-19, call 0800 100 900 to discuss your results with a careers adviser who will have knowledge of local opportunities.”

National Careers Service website

So, whilst the Department of Education claims the test to be “up to date”, it seems that the impact of Coronavirus- which we have been experiencing since March- has yet to impact the DYSAC test. This would explain the number of suggestions to work in the tourism and creative industries, despite the government’s not-so-subtle hints to move away from these career paths at a time when their future is unclear.

I’d say take your results with a pinch of salt – they’re not always going to be as accurate as you want them to be.

But anyway, enough of that…

Anyone know of any local football teams that need a referee?

About The Author

Charlie Colville

I’m Charlie, a digital journalist and Mouthing Off's Editor in Chief. You'll find me exploring galleries, listening to podcasts, and using the gift of the written gab to get my opinion out to the world.

1 Comment

  1. Rhys Clarke

    The Department of Education is unironically pushing internet quizzes to try and help people involved in the “Creative Community”, for lack of a better term.
    You couldn’t make this stuff up.


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