Millennials losing basic life skills


Now a generation of young people who don’t know their Rawlplugs from their ratchet spanners is driving a new trend — do it for me. […]

A recent survey has found that millennials were losing basic life skills, with one in ten admitting they could not change a lightbulb and a third at a loss as to how to bleed a radiator.


Agreed, this is pretty appalling, but without a longitudinal study it’s fairly meaningless. I suspect the percentage of people who don’t know how to bleed a radiator or change a light bulb might not be that different from 20 years ago. There’s a hard core of the population (and always has been) that have a blind spot regarding anything in the least “technical”, a prime example being John Humphreys, far from a millennial, who made me want to scream when he interviewed LJ Rich on the Today programme a while ago, and indeed whenever he interviews anyone on a science or technology topic.

I do take comfort, though, that firms like B&Q are producing instructional videos. But when it comes to tail lights and headlamps, with CAD to help them, manufacturers these days are packing things in so tightly that it can be next to impossible to get your hands into the tight spaces to release a tight clip or wing nut which hasn’t been moved for several years, or to correctly position the replacement bulb, clips and connector, sometimes purely by feel and taking care not to touch the quartz envelope.


Agree with all @philip’s points.

Is bleeding a radiator a universal skill? What proportion of homes actually have radiators these days?
I’m equally dubious about the “1 in 10 can’t change a lightbulb” statistic. I doubt that it’s exactly 10%, so, if it was rounded up from, say, 6%, well, 6 people out of 100 who can’t change lightbulbs doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Complicating the lightbulb issue (both domestic & automotive) are LED lights with their 10-year life expectancy which make lightbulb changing an exceptional rather than a regular event.
(Having said which, I’ve seen quite a few LEDs whose controllers have failed long before the actual LED did).


I briefly looked for the survey but did not find it. There was a similar one done by Aviva in 2017.

What concerns me is the impact the changes (whether as characterised by the article or by @philip and @Dave) have on people getting into repair. I’ve been relying on two analogies that may reach the end of their shelf life:

  • If you’ve changed a fuse you basically understand about continuity (likely without realising it). There are still fuses in plugs and appliances, but the once common experience of replacing a fuse on the electrical panel at home is mostly gone.

  • if you’ve touched an (incandescent) bulb, you know that electricity generates heat. Incandescent bulbs are disappearing and LED/CFL bulbs claim a longer life.

As many of the issue we encounter at Restart Parties are to do with continuity and heat (blocked/dirty fans) these analogies have proved very useful in making people aware they know more than they that had realised. And then you can explain how to use a multimeter, open a computer, etc.

Please share any better or more up-to-date analogies you may have that could be used for this purpose.