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Posts Tagged ‘Apprenticeships’

The travesty of Tuition Fees was the commercialisation of education, the myth of qualification-related Social Mobility and the creation of lifetime debt for those who can least afford it

November 5, 2018 Leave a comment

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Somewhere, there was a cheer last week. Quieter that the Government was expecting. Bringing noises that didn’t sound quite as expected.

Yes, the dropping of Tuition Fees does sound good. But the question we should all be asking – just as we should have when they were first brought into being is ‘at what cost?’.

Living in the age of political idealism made manifest as we all currently do, it is too easy to get distracted by the noise from the media as new policies are launched.

We fail to look beyond and see the true consequences of what the Government of the day is doing with our money, and what the legacy – and yes, what the fallout will actually be from everything they do.

The creation of Tuition Fees was one of the biggest travesties of them all, simply because it all sounded so good, whilst the negative impact and knock on effects across so many different areas of policy were simply too-far reaching to justify anything about it which was tangibly good.

The UK’s Education System has been failing us all for a long while anyway. But the impact from Tuition Fees was never going to deliver much that really helped anyone in the way that the genuine concept of equality in education for all really should.

That so many former, existing and future students are now destined to have a lifetime of debt must surely now be a given.

Yet it is through the accompanying shift of emphasis from quality of teaching to fee-generation and profit alone within the Further and Higher Education Sectors which has secured the Blair era one of its darkest, yet most unrecognisable legacies as the true cost of ‘degrees for everyone’ becomes manifest and begins to become widely known.

It should come as little surprise that the leaders of the Institutions in these Sectors are now worried that a restriction on Fees may begin a process where ‘struggling’ universities are set to close.

That is the true price of making education a business, when money should never have been the target of a reprioritisation of direction Certainly not where the benefit of both the student, our industries and the National interest itself are so very closely entwined.

Beware the siren calls and suggestion of this being an attack on Social Mobilty too. Academic qualifications have only ever been a very small part of what it takes to get any one person through the perceptual barriers which hold so many people back. Whether they be school-age students, young people, graduates, career changers, returners or retirees, we all have a part to play in everyone else’s future too.

The reality is that the State should pay for everyone’s education. But in doing so, we must be practical and realistic about how access to education is applied and how much benefit is derived to us all from the provision of each and every course.

We must recognise that there is just as much value to be gained by opening up truly vocational opportunities for the less-academically-inclined at the age of 14.

And that as a result of doing so, not only would we release many young people from the painful and unnecessary realities of being in debt, we can also exploit the opportunity to create a parallel track of time-served and experienced trainees to support all of our businesses in a way that the obsession with degree level education has all but denied.

It would be far more sensible to begin this process of change now, accepting that neither the student nor the Nation itself can afford the process of awarding superfluous and non-beneficial degrees. And help the Sector to change through reform, rather than through a process brought on by necessity, which is what is currently sure to happen, if Politicians continue to think that money is the only benchmark by which the future of education can and should be defined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labour’s ‘jobs guarantee’ for the unemployed: Politicians should guarantee their own jobs by giving industry the policies and systems that work for business so that business itself can start working for us all.

January 4, 2013 Leave a comment

Tackling unemployment should be an issue for any Government. But Labour’s attempt at generating meaningful headlines with meaningless content will do little to reassure either business or the unemployed about what the post 2015 future may hold. It will also do little to enhance Labour’s kudos on matters of care for the elderly if they are planning even more ‘Brownite’ onslaughts upon the pension funds of those who are already working.

Subsidising low-paid jobs does little to incentivise those who have not already taken them, but does a great deal for companies who need and profit from a low-skilled workforce; staff who require minimum induction or ongoing training alongside next-to-no supervision; all packaged neatly within a low-risk environment.

People should not be fooled either by the idea that cash-strapped charities would immediately benefit from having unskilled staff delivering services which may currently be undertaken by experienced volunteers, when such staff themselves would in all likelihood require supervision at much greater cost.

Perhaps I will not be alone in seeing the irony that the only businesses which can therefore profitably gain from the implementation of these ideas are primarily the big retailers, who are already targeting such groups for their shop-floor staff pools and don’t actually need Government money to help them do so.

The retail fat-cats must surely be laughing themselves all the way to the bank as they thank the gods of democracy in anticipation of the delivery of such idiocy made manifest in political form.

Getting people of all ages into work isn’t just about job creation. It is about empowering business, education and developing skills based upon the strengths of the individual, rather than devaluing the future of a whole generation on the basis of the weaknesses of groups.

If Westminster politicians were to adopt a more reasoned and practical approach, they might conclude that tackling employment issues tomorrow might be better served by tackling the causes of unemployment today. They might also conclude that the unemployed and disenfranchised young people of today, may well become the long-term unemployed and unemployable of tomorrow. Can it really be that difficult to see how many of these issues actually roll into one when you think ahead?

As Education Secretary, Michael Gove has impressed many with his fervour to return a world-class British system of education for school-age children. But will that really go far enough if it actually happens?

Children are always different and will always react differently to education. Some work best with their heads, whilst some will always work better practically and ‘with their hands’. Any system of schooling which therefore doesn’t recognise that difference and more importantly cater for it, is going to fail many of those who might otherwise go on to succeed – especially when that difference may just have been a simple issue of age and time at individual level.

Returning to a fully parallel and universal system of academic and vocational education from the age of 14 would be akin to pushing the first domino in a whole run of social issues concerning us now and for the future – however ‘un-PC’ they may be.

Removing red tape and legislation that currently prevent businesses of all sizes from employing teenagers at realistic wages during realistic hours and within the real-world employment environment, could give non-academically inclined children the real hope of attaining like-for-like qualifications through the timed-served, rather than the academic route.

Creation of the ‘apprenticeship-degree’ would bolster the competitiveness of British Industry and business of all sizes which themselves would then be able to draw upon an affordable pool of trainees, making investment in their future entirely more feasible; whilst taking Young People off the streets, giving them value in themselves, money in their pockets and taking them away from crime which the Country can already ill-afford to tackle.

Savings to Government from no longer filling what are arguably wasted places in schools could be significant, even if some funds were then redirected to tertiary and higher education colleges which support the vocational route for many of what would be the mile-stoned route to that real and vocationally-based degree. And let’s face it, degrees need to regain the value that the one-size-fits-all mentality of the last Government did much to destroy, whilst giving all those who actually want to work the opportunity to do so.

Getting the unemployed who want to work into work will always be a job done better by employers. Politicians should guarantee their own jobs by giving industry the policies and systems that work for business so that business itself can start working for us all.

Businesses are not inherently academic, so why are degrees becoming the prerequisite skill?

Latest news suggests that without more degree level education based skills, the UK will experience an exodus of jobs overseas to emerging economies. But when we already have students doing degrees just for the sake of doing them and a basic education system which sees school-leavers failing to possess even basic literacy and numeracy skills, should we really be thinking about pushing more through a university education as the immediate priority?

Like it or not, many young people are neither cut out nor ready for an academic pathway from or even during secondary education. Simply creating more courses to include a wider selection of students is hardly the answer and is fast leading to the existence of meaningless degrees, which won’t help business, and don’t help the students themselves who these days will have had to sell their soul to get it.

One of the greater injustices of recent political times is the idea propagated by New Labour during the 1997-2010 period of Government that everyone could be the same and do the same things. Such socialist ideology permeates itself by changing – or rather levelling systems throughout society to treat everyone the same under the ideal that to do so is providing ‘equal opportunities’.  However, as we are all different – and often in ways that cannot be seen with the naked eye – this method is not only obtuse in the extreme, it has contributed to the creation of a society where younger generations are becoming lazy and without ambition. When you add to this the burden of taxation which is placed upon higher wage earners for daring to do well and the resentment they experience if they do so, neither do you leave in place any real motivation to be any different or encourage the social mobility that the same idealist meddlers suggest to be a milestone of progress.

The good behind many ideas, policies and concepts is often lost when change is enacted simply for the sake of change and this is no less so within education as elsewhere. Whilst the technology age has altered the requirements for skills throughout the industries, the historic format of leaving school at 14 and becoming ‘apprenticed’ was a much better way to foster learning in those who were more ‘hands than head’ at the time, and could as such provide lessons in forming the basis of a very radical and effective way to change the way that we develop our National skills base for business and industry.

Why not:

  • Remove the burdens of red tape which govern the working environment for younger people.
  • Develop an effective subsidy allocation and training scheme to assist participant businesses to replace unused school places, ‘young to work’ schemes and unemployment benefits.
  • Give business a cost-effective motivation to support vocational or ‘on-the-job’ training for 14-21 year olds who in that time, may well have attained the equivalent of academic training in parallel skills and real-world experience, which may in fact have far more use to companies than ‘green’ graduates who refuse to stuff envelopes because they have a degree.

Business can only get the best from employees if they have been nurtured within a system which allows and encourages them to be their best – in whatever way that may be. Even the suggestion that you must have a degree level education to make an effective contribution is not only short sighted; it fails to recognise that a true acceptance of diversity goes way beyond embracing race, impairment, sexuality, location or social group and that each pathway to learning can be highly beneficial to society with real opportunities put in place to appreciate it.

Equality in Education has been destroyed by the idea that all can make the best of the same opportunities

images (31)I seem to have the phrase ‘cause and effect’ branded in my thought processes right now as I look at all of the problems with Government and no less so when recently reading yet more bad news about struggling school pupils failing to catch up.  But is anybody really surprised?

One of the greatest problems with modern government and law-making is that once an issue has been addressed, the people who have been put in place to deal with that issue then have nothing to do – unless of course they create something else to justify their existence. Have a good look at every area of life where some kind of policy has been created or exists and you might just begin to see what I mean.

The problem with this process is that whilst you can easily see that some things do benefit from being revised from their original form to meet a need which was not originally considered or indeed, to bring that a policy or law up-to-date to meet or to be applicable to contemporary need, the rise of the bureaucrat and ‘professional’ politician has led to unnecessary meddling and the creation of having laws for laws sake. This is particularly evident in matters such as education.

The value of education has been appreciated for a long time but the system we have probably began the headlong descent that we are now experiencing when the concept of real apprenticeships was lost and the school leaving age was raised to 16 in 1972. Speak to what some might call ‘old school’ educators and they will tell you that children were either ‘heads or hands’; the inference being that they were academic or practically inclined. Would you hear a teacher say the same in a similar conversation today? No.

The 1997-2010 New Labour project oversaw much of the destructive push towards blanket qualification levels which now seem to be the accepted way to enhance an evolving society. Put simply, the approach of such meddlers is to work on the basis that the easiest way to improve education is to make the education fit the population, rather than encourage the population to meet the demands of the time. Now is that real equality or just a twisted view of it which is taking our once highly educated and envied Nation backwards?

Everyone is different for many reasons, not least because of their genetics, demographics and social conditioning. It is therefore sheer folly to believe that by applying the one-size-fits-all mentality that you will create a perfect and fully functioning society by making everyone equal ‘by default’. We currently see high levels of youth unemployment and dissatisfaction with the system (Something apparently highlighted by the August 2011 Riots), but again no real attempts to address the causes of these problems being made by the very people who could genuinely make a difference.

There are many young people who don’t want to be in ‘school’ and others who just don’t get the benefit from a dumbed-down degree system where 3 years of undergraduate study provides what could be a lifelong debt and a qualification that industry views as useless, all against the backdrop of a Government that cannot afford to provide such diversions in the first place. The balance has been lost and somebody needs to get this all back where it should be so that each and every individual can follow a route to a career which gives them the best opportunities to realise all that they can achieve based on what they are capable of doing; not what some idealist in London thinks it right that they should do.

Rather than scratching heads about the escalating problems created by the decline in standards in education, why not get back to a basic appreciation of the fact that everyone has something unique to offer and that in itself requires real diversity of opportunities and not one which is offered by an encyclopaedic exam syllabus. Put 14 year-olds who have no academic inclination – or don’t recognise one at that age – into real 7-year vocational apprenticeships in industry and SME’s where time and application give them the career footing that they would otherwise never achieve?

Why not begin to rebuild the ‘time-served’ bank of talent and experience that no amount of schoolroom activity can provide our dwindling industries and hungry-for-help businesses with, in a cost effective way which reduces the burden on the State and will probably address all manner of other issues hurting society at the same time such as youth crime?

I can almost hear the ‘it won’t work because…’ right now. What – because of employment laws or other legislation? – That’s exactly the point and the very reason we are getting into more and more of a mess isn’t it?

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