x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

An argument for a little substance before branding begins

It seems that nowadays there's only a small sector of society who hold down day jobs that create something of direct practical use.

Among all my friends, there's only a handful who I can really say have proper jobs - jobs that actually, genuinely do something of use. Within this minority are a handful of social workers, the odd teacher and one - I repeat, one - fireman. And it's the friendship with the fireman I'm most proud of, he being the only person I know whose profession might be found in a game of Happy Families.

For some time now, I've begun to believe that there's just a small section of society (or certainly those I tend to encounter) who hold down a day-to-day job that creates something of direct practical use. Everywhere seems to be awash with public relations executives, social media experts, events coordinators, online marketing consultants, advertising sales managers, graphic designers and other such professions that would have had your average career adviser reaching for the dictionary just a decade or so ago.

Of course, I'm including myself in this merry bunch of modern-day misfits.

But beyond my own outlook, the image given out by the media isn't any better. Were an alien to land on Earth and flick through a few lifestyle magazines, they'd probably head off back to Outer Zaphelbod 6 (or wherever they're from) believing Earth to be populated solely by brand managers, fashion consultants and PR directors.

Now, I don't want to be one of those whingers who complains about universities offering courses such as media studies and other such 21st-century subjects beyond the usual maths and sciences, but I do fear we are becoming a world of people unable to change a light bulb, yet equipped to give the light bulb a strong web presence, an eye-catching new logo and a radical new marketing strategy. Perhaps one solution would be a form of compulsory education, whereby kids of a certain age - let's say between 18 and 19 - have to train in a proper, useful profession, such as plumbing, carpentry or bricklaying, before they can go off and do something that involves building a brand on Facebook.

For starters, I could do with learning a few basic life skills (putting up a pair of curtains in my flat has so far proved an impossible task). I'd happily sign up for such a programme.