A new professional sportswoman Barbie is about to hit the market with a Venus Williams doll in a mission to inspire young girls into sport ambitions and show being fit is cool.

Research shows that children subliminally start the career choice process at eight.

Yes, that young. Really.

By 14, they are on a path and have developed a mindset about the type of work they will go into.

With females so underrepresented across the workforce in key disciplines, toys children play with can start to shape that process. 

A careers argument has long been “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it”, yet still females are still woefully short on the ground in the STEM (science, technology, maths and engineering) roles, despite role models. The same is true about men in the arts and caring professions, but not to such a stark extend.

A balanced workforce is always a better workforce. Who wants to live in a world – or work in a sector - where 51 per cent of the population is underrepresented, where children grow up thinking they can’t, feeling opportunities are closed to them so much they don’t even consider them?

In a world where being a social media ‘influencer’ and TikTok star, earning fast bucks from making internet ‘content’, however fatuous, has become an ambition in itself, there needs to be urgent collaborative effort across education, employers, toy makers and government for a strategy from early years childhood to shape our future workforces .

The skills gap is widening. So many sectors are having crisis summits about how to bridge the gap and build a workforce to service the UK of the future needs.

We need Matel to create an engineer Barbie – a cool problem-solving woman - scientist Barbie who changes the world, a Doctor Barbie to add to the new nine female athletes Barbies to start inspiring children at preschool to embed that jobs are not divided by genders and view jobs as jobs not jobs for males and jobs for females. 

The same approach should be taken with Action Man. 

Lego is fantastic but what possessed it to create a pink Lego to instantly make a gender distinction,

Sadly, this was to entice parents to buy Lego for girls because much of this blue/pink job culture starts at home.

Starting small children to the range of job roles available in play could transform our future workforce.

A chat with a careers teacher – if they exist anymore – at 14 is too late.

We need to drip feed to broaden the perception of opportunity and make that change.

Election is already a damp squib
And so it begins. A general election campaign announced on a soggy Wednesday of weather warnings and torrential rain to a bemused nation wondering why July?

A damp squib in an apathetic tired country.

Whether a summer vote was motivated by yesterday’s falling interest rates and that polling day might bring feelgood sun – or Rishi Sunak fears autumn will bring bad news, we have election fatigue before it’s even started.

The image of a beleaguered (deluded) prime minister so far removed from the daily struggles of his electorate as the King heading back into Downing Street drenched by the downpour to rally the troops summed up how we feel.

But what is more depressing is how politicians are resigning in droves, running as fast as they can from the rotten culture of Westminster and the murkiness, and the abuse, threats and violence they receive from the public means people of quality who, once upon a time would have made Parliament their ambition, won’t touch it with a bargepole now, so the quality of candidates dropping. 

Voters are cynical, fed up and just can’t be bothered with it, which is hugely sad. Even young people have given up being ‘political’ so disillusioned at the hand they have been dealt buy the people elected to shape their future.

So many people say they want to use their vote to protest. It will count as spoiling their papers with a message, but they want that ‘spoiling’ counted as a protest that they want change, not the same-old same-old tired system.

Change is needed, but more than a mere change of government. We need a system overhaul.

In the meantime, welcome to the next six-week pantomime.

Buck stops with Vennells

Former Post Office CEO Paula Vennells delivered a stellar performance of saving her own skin at this week’s inquiry.

Pausing to wipe her tears, she pushed the blame on others, described herself as “too trusting”, pointing to the structure of the management at the PO and misinformation and not being given all the information.

Let’s remember, she was the CEO. It was her job to know what was going on. Her reward was a salary and bonuses amounting to £5 million during her seven-year tenure. In 2018, her base salary was £253,800, and she earned £390,800 in bonuses, plus pensions and other benefits.

The buck stopped with her.

Blaming others is not the conduct expected of a CEO, or an ordained priest, which she is.