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Should over-50s all resign in order to provide jobs for younger people?
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
April 27, 2012
6:03 pm

Disclaimer: This is NOT an IELTS essay! It is a recent article by Lucy Kellaway, a British journalist who writes for the Financial Times and BBC. I'm posting it here as an example of how a professional journalist might answer this IELTS-type question:

What can I and the global community do to create jobs for my generation?

Wasting time on the internet recently I came upon a nasty statistic. In the next 10 years, there will be 1.2bn young people looking for work and only 300m jobs to go around. Next to this stark stat was an invitation to write an essay on what you would do to solve the problem.

My essay is quite short and can be summarised in one word.


This inescapable, awkward truth has been rammed home to me in the past few months as I keep meeting bright people in their 20s and 30s desperate for a job in journalism - and for mine in particular. I fob them off with platitudes but the real reason they can't do my job is that I'm doing it myself.

The same is true for almost all professions. The young can't advance because everywhere they find my complacent generation is in situ. Thus the only way of solving the problem is to make everyone of a certain age, say over 50, walk the plank.

Before I go any further, I ought to make one thing clear. This is not a resignation letter - I intend to hang on for dear life. It is just that I can't resist pointing out the obvious, even though it is not in my interests to do so.

The choice boils down to whether it's better for people to have a decade at the beginning or at the end of their careers where they are demoralised and underemployed. The answer is easy: surely it is better to be more active at the beginning. To have people idle at a time when they are full of energy and their grey-cell count is at a maximum is a shocking waste.

And in any case, my generation has had it very good for much too long. We bought houses when they were still just about affordable. We had free education and pensions. It's all been jolly nice, and I've enjoyed it a lot. Now is the time to start to pay.

Shifting from old to young would bring down wages and would also solve the executive pay problem in one shot. Almost all the people earning grotesque amounts are over 50 - getting rid of them would mean CEO pay would come thumping down.

I have tried this idea out on various contemporaries and they all say it's rubbish, with a panicky look in their eyes. Then they say think about the loss of experience. I reply that experience can be overrated; in any case, I'm not advocating giving huge jobs to children, but to those in their 40s, who have 15 or 20 years' experience, which is surely just as good as 30 or even 40.

Then they protest that the people at the top are there because they are good, and getting rid of good people is stupid. This is true up to a point, but there are surely younger people who are good too. Anyway, I might bend the rules to let some ageing superstars - of whom there are very, very few - stay on.

I'm not saying I like the idea. I'm just saying I believe it. And I'm submitting this as my essay for the prize. I see that the winner gets $10,000. I hope I don't win. Although if I do, I'll need the money.

Lucy Kellaway

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17855240, 26 April 2012



If you use the readability tools at the top of this page under "Useful Links" you can find out that this essay is 566 words long, with an average sentence length of just 16. Note the variety of sentence types and lengths - some are just one word long!  

I recommend that all IELTS candidates aim for an average sentence length of about 12-15 words per sentence. There is no need to write long confusing sentences with up to 20 or 25 words.

The readability statistics claim this essay can be read 'easily' by 12-13 year old native speakers because of the number of short words and short sentences.  Only 6.99% of the vocabulary, or one one out every 14 words, is 'complex' or difficult to understand. Complicated does not always mean better!  


  • rammed home → made very clear, understood clearly, forced
  • fob off → push someone away by saying something you don't really mean
  • platitudes → boring, tired old statements, like "Time will tell" or "Things will work out" or "It's all for the best"
  • complacent → not being worried when you should be worried, smug, ignoring danger, not thinking about the future
  • in situ →  Latin phrase mean on site, or present - here meaning in or holding a job (and can't be moved)
  • walk the plank → be forced to leave or quit
  • jolly nice → UK English for nice. Hard to explain, but it's what the descriptors refer to as "sophisticated use of lexical features" or "awareness of style"

You can read or listen to more articles by Lucy Kellaway here.  

I've made one small edit from the original article.

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