Boxer or lock-keeper? Government careers quiz scorned by users

A government jobs quiz aimed at identifying potential new areas of work provides a string of unhelpful career suggestions including lock-keeping and boxing as well as currently precarious posts including airline pilot and cinema projectionist, users have complained.

Rishi Sunak’s warning that the coronavirus pandemic will force employees to adapt to find work has prompted much interest in the beta version of the career assessment tool. But some of the results it has produced, based on answers to 50 questions, have prompted mirth and despair among users.

Suggested posts in troubled industries caused the most alarm. Lara Platman, a photographer, was unimpressed to be told she might suit the role of an airline pilot or lock-keeper.

Alistair Coleman, a journalist, suggested the test was based on guesswork after he too was told he could be a lock-keeper or a pilot, or else a cinema projectionist.

Martin Eastwood, a data scientist, was puzzled as to why the government quiz recommended he become a projectionist “at this point in time”, with cinemas struggling.

Cineworld, the world’s second biggest cinema operator, is closing 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas in the UK with the loss of 5,500 jobs.

Kate Devlin, a computer scientist and AI specialist, was told she might be better off as a boxer.

When the Guardian took the quiz, new roles suggested for its journalist were: antique dealer, fashion model and makeup artist.

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In an interview with ITV, Sunak said: “Everyone is having to find ways to adapt and adjust to the new reality.”

The Treasury had complained to the broadcaster after it initially suggested he was calling for people in the arts to retrain to find other jobs. Sunak said this was false. “I care deeply about the arts, which is why our £1.57bn culture package is one of the most generous in the world,” the chancellor said.

It is unclear if Sunak or Boris Johnson have taken the quiz, which invites users to state how much they agree or disagree with a series of statements.

There would be much interest in how these politicians answered some of the questions, such as “I like to focus on details”, “I enjoy planning a task more than actually doing it”, or “I set myself targets when I have things to do, and usually meet them”.

The Department for Education, which is responsible for the tool, has been approached for comment.


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