Preparing for the next step

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THE last few weeks of 1956 was a time when these Bailiff Bridge children were coming to the end of their early school days and would soon be moving up.

After senior school it was a safe bet that some of the children pictured above in John Firth’s photograph would eventually start their working lives in at Firth’s Carpets whose mill buildings dominated the heart of the village.

The children of previous generations had their future working lives practically pre-ordained. It was not a case of where you were going to go to work but which part of the Firth’s headquarters!

On Tuesday mornings at the Maurice Jagger Centre in Halifax I am the facilitator for a small group of retired people in a weekly reminiscence session.

This week we had a discussion about work – and the common experience was that most people at that time had a job for life.

If you had a few jobs in fairly quick succession you would be considered to be someone who could not hold a job down, even a bit of a time waster.

But on the rare occasions you had to look for a new job you had a choice. Quite often you could leave one job and walk straight into a new one within a couple of hours, and that would be from a choice of jobs available.

How times have changed. Once on the employment ladder it is expected that most young people will have a number of jobs until they find their ideal occupation and that is described as being part of gaining that all important experience.

Looking back on my own early working life, I remember it was rare for people to go off sick. If you did you had to stay inside the house just in case you were seen going out. If you did go out it would certainly not be in daylight. “If you can go out, then you can go to work” is what your parents said.

Another aspect of work these children will have seen change over the years, and which was also something discussed among the members of my reminiscence group was how jobs around the house had changed over the years .

Things are supposed to be easier now but is that the case?

Modern gadgets are even said to make the job more enjoyable compared to the old days. Which modern household gadget is an improvement from your early years of running your own home?

Most of my group put the vacuum cleaner high on the list closely followed by the microwave oven, washing machine and clothes dryer.

The rise of the microwave did, however, mean that it stopped them from cooking a meal in what they called the old fashioned way.

We were taught to cook by our mothers and grandmothers who didn’t always bother measuring the ingredients. It was usually a pinch of this, a small handful of that, and nothing ever failed to turn out just as they wanted it.

Most of these youngsters in today’s featured photograph (admittedly, a bit out of step with the seasons but I couldn’t resist it) will already have retired or be close to it.

As they reflect on their working lives, as we all do when that retirement date arrives, I am sure that most will have had just the one job or very few throughout the whole of their working lives.