View from here - Sweden - Holiday job is littered with loot

21st August 2009 at 01:00
Ben Kersley finds an interesting work opportunity for the long vacation - but it's a bit rubbish

Between the end of June and the start of August, Sweden was closed. It is no exaggeration to say that everyone was on holiday - everyone, that is, apart from a temporary workforce of high-school kids who seem to take over any job that doesn't require qualifications.

With an air of happy incompetence, they bring a new level to the term "unskilled" as they gratefully work for as close to the minimum wage as their bosses can get away with.

In April, local newspapers run a special small ads page on which teenagers attempt to make themselves desirable to potential employers. "Sven, 15, trustworthy, good with people, own bike. Seeks work with animals."

Good summer jobs are sought after. But this summer, in Linkoping, the city where I live, one job in particular has been more sought after than any other.

The post has been advertised as "the best worst job in the world" and is the collaborative brainchild of the local council and Linkoping's Ungdomsombuden (the city council's youth representatives).

The scheme was inspired by the Australian "best job in the world" contest to find a "caretaker" for an idyllic tropical island on the Great Barrier Reef.

The only difference is that the Linkoping competition was created to find a Super Cleaner.

The successful applicant would be aged between 16 and 22, would get free transport, free food, a laptop computer, a digital camera and a salary of SKr30,000 (#163;3,000).

All they had to do was to pick up litter and write about it via a blog, Twitter, Facebook and any other new-fangled means of communication that politicians flirt with but use with embarrassing inefficiency.

Behind the scheme was the desire to raise awareness among young people about the cost of cleaning up the town.

Although it seems impossible to assess how effective the job has been, the scheme has been the buzz topic at high schools and colleges since April.

Almost 1,500 applications were received, which represents 20 per cent of the target group (high-school students and recent school leavers).

The blog gets more than 200 unique visitors on an average day.

Perhaps litter isn't the most important problem facing today's teenagers, but the "best worst job" has achieved more than just a reduction in the amount of litter.

Not only is the scheme a novel way to educate young people about a fairly mundane subject, but it has created a sense of ownership and responsibility among members of a group that, typically, feels marginalised by the city's mainstream.

In Linkoping, one thing is for sure: litter is no longer a dirty word.

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