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Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Where are the stonemasons in a city made of stone?

By  Jun 10, 2017

I was watching the television the other day when an advert for an upcoming new show caught my interest. Well to be honest it was one particular line, a sound bite if you like, that raised my attention. “No generation has faced so many challenges and is so inadequately equipped to deal with them,” said the presenter. Harsh words, but the more I started to think about it the more I agreed with them.

A couple of days later President Trump (two words that just look awkward together) pulled America out of the Paris Agreement and basically stuck his middle finger up at the rest of the world. Now that’s another challenge we face.

The gist of the TV show was that we have less and less skilled workers and more and more managers. Anyone who has tried to find a good (and I emphasize the word GOOD) plumber, builder, decorator, mechanic, electrician, etc (I could go on and on but I think we get the idea) will know that it is easier to find the Holy Grail. Working with your hands seems like it is now a dirty business. There are a few factors that have brought us down this sorry path. With the rise of modern technology we have now found ways that robots or computers do the jobs for us. Heavy industry, after its peak in the industrial revolution, has been on the decline since World War II. Trump can bang on about car production and coal mining all he wants but this has almost nothing to do with China and more to do with the way we live our lives today.

Whether we like it or not we live in a disposable society. Something breaks...we buy a new something...rather than having it fixed. Rather than a mechanic trying to fix a part he simply goes out and buys a new one. The motor on our washing machine breaks, it is now almost cheaper to buy a whole new washing machine rather than getting it fixed. This is of course a policy of big businesses. They want us to keep buying new products, it isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s just for them more business.

Of course this business practise is more than a little at odds with protecting the environment and recycling. Surely it would make more sense to fix something, which in a way is actually recycling it. But I digress. Just take a look at the number of young students in Dubrovnik who want to study economy, PR or management. The ratio of “workers” to managers is way off course. Who will these students manage when they graduate? I was chatting to a student studying PR the other day and his naive outlook on the business was both amusing and sad in equal measures. Of course there are many positive and maybe even creative sides to PR but there is also lots and lots of crap. Taking someone’s crazy ideas and putting a positive light on it. Or as a great journalist once said “spinning shit into silk.” Look I am not against PR people, I deal with them on a daily basis and most of them do a fine job, I am just saying that there is a limited amount of positions available in that industry. We don’t need 100 PR people every graduation. We also don’t need hundreds of managers either. I know that there is pressure from parents of young students to study something “worthy” and not what they wrongly perceive to be below their child’s so called level.

I overheard a conversation with a professor at the maritime university in Dubrovnik who was commenting on how hard the course is and how many students just give up and drop out. “We are the greatest producer of future waiters in the city,” he sadly admitted. He probably isn’t wrong. Again there is nothing wrong with being a waiter, far from it, there is nothing more satisfying in watching a good waiter at work. But sadly there is a stigma attached to people who work with their hands.

Dubrovnik was partly created by stonemasons and we marvel at it beauty. But if a child has ambitions to be a stonemason he or she would be laughed at today. Where are the stonemasons in a city made of stone? Remove that stigma and just be the best at what you want to do, whatever that may be. Jamie Oliver was joked at for wanting to be a chef, nobody is laughing at him today. “Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are,” said the great Martin Luther King.