Career conundrums 1

June 21, 2002

I empathise with Alice Smyth in being "disillusioned with degrees" ("Why I...", THES , June 14). I too am in the casual labour market with a teaching degree, two masters and a PhD from the Open University. My subject disciplines are history, economics and management.

I have worked in the regular army in personnel and financial administration. I have taught and trained extensively. I am now a first-aid trainer at a local college, a security worker and a "gofer" in McDonald's, where I meet fellow postdoctoral students with engineering, technological and science-based degrees.

I have made 150 job applications to higher education institutions throughout Britain. My academic attainments are supported with an extensive publication and research record. Financial constraints have forced me to turn down the offer to deliver papers based on my doctoral research at two international conferences in Japan and Melbourne in the past 12 months.

I am 55 years old and probably past my sell-by date. Unfortunately, age discrimination is not unlawful in Britain - it is just morally offensive.

John Black

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