12 JANUARY 2002, Page 30

Canniest of candidates

From Amy Stroud Sir: Bill Penn (`The semi illiterates', 5 January) reveals his own ignorance of the media marketplace if he does not realise that graduates from 'breeze-block universities with their degrees in marketing, communications' are quite the canniest candidates around. A first degree in most humanities subjects is, after all, barely a flirtation in the murky realm of 'key skills' for the media workplace, and those not fortunate enough to have these vocational credentials will need to shell out several thousands of pounds on a postgraduate course to ensure they acquire them.

Of course I realise this now, two years and 20 temping jobs later. Clever enough to assume I might not immediately find one of the more 'stimulating and useful occupations for the seriously clever to which Penn mysteriously refers, I thought an English degree from Cambridge might at least prove to an employer that I am smart enough to learn on the job. However, Barthian analysis of structure and meaning and metonymy within Sir Philip Sidney's sonnet cycles no longer exert that magnetic pull on employers that once they did.

Amy Stroud