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Young people to be banned from working

Greetings Samizdatistas, greetings Commentariat. Long time no see. I expect Brian would have blogged about this were his education blog still going (I for one would love to see it back) but instead the task has roused me from the sweet repose of my “resting contributor” coffin. Here goes.

On the face of it, the idea of raising the school leaving age to eighteen might seem reasonable, especially given that the British government still plans to permit either schooling or “vocational training” when it bans young people from full-time work. After all, the idea apparently works fine in Canada. They simply enforce the law by taking away young people’s driving licenses if they attempt to work for a living. Clearly it is the working teenagers we need to worry about when it comes to youth crime, truancy and so on. Work is bad for you, and encourages bad behaviour! Young people should be writing essays, not mending cars!

But underneath the face of it, I have a few questions:

  1. Does “approved training scheme” mean “what the government likes” or does it mean something more sensible and informed?
  2. How much will it cost to approve all post-16 on-the-job training schemes?
  3. Since when did working for a living exclude learning useful things? Why is it assumed that jobs and learning are mutually exclusive? Is this because all entry-level work is exploitative labour nowadays?
  4. If this is the case, why does it not apply to graduates with arts degrees working in burger bars and so on? Is it acceptable to be exploited as long as you have wasted five years of your life acquiring thousands of pounds worth of debt, for some reason? Why?
  5. What will 16 year olds without private financial support be expected to live on if they are banned from honest work? Will they be expected to acquire early student loans? Join a homeless shelter? Or merely become heroin salespeople?

Just wondering.

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51 comments to Young people to be banned from working

  • How long before any work is illegal without an ‘approved training scheme‘§? How quickly will the swivel-eyed Sociofascists move to see it include reeducation in moonbattery du jour? Imagine, if you refuse to attend the training you might end up being denied work. If you fail to spout the (re)education correctly then who knows, that might cause you to lose your income or be demoted.

    They want to control everything, and I do not put it past them to wish to control our right to earn a living. Unions were only the prototype, it seems.

    § reminds me of the old joke about a yob boasting of going to a good school – “It’s approved!”

  • guy herbert

    Headline is not quite accurate. They won’t be banned from working. They will be enslaved to the state.

  • It is unlikely the government would approve of anything as entrepreneurial as becoming heroin salespeople. I agree with Guy Herbert, a whole load will end up as slaves to the state. Those that aren’t wreaking the chances of anybody that would have stayed on anyway.

  • Alcoholiday

    I usually stay off Samizdata comments threads as, to be honest, I’m out of my depth. However even I can spot some of the absurdities of this down-right evil proposal.

    The age of consent in England is 16. Some of these “government approved” sexual activities will result in children. Are any parents under 18 to be denied the opportunity to provide financially for their family? And to think a whole government agency is devoted to chasing down “absent parents” in order to force them to pay for their children!

    Also, I’ve a limited understanding of economics, but surely this will result in less “training courses” from private employers? Currently they can employ people and train them without the need to gain government sanction for any training given. The extra costs incurred from obtaining “approved” status will surely dissuade many businesses from employing under-18s, and they will instead employ over-18s where no such compulsion will exist (until the legislation is extended to us all of course….)

    With that outburst I will return to my lurker status and let the heavyweights discuss this properly.

  • Chris Harper

    More lunacy from that f*****g coprocracy that governs you in the UK.

    Much as I miss my darling home of London I would thank all the god(s) of any mono- or pan-theon you care to propose, were I not an athiest, that I am no longer subject to this bunch of utter morons.

    Proud as I am of my use of language I simply lack the vocabulary to properly express my loathing and contempt for this lot.

  • Chris Harper

    Is coprocracy a word? Can I have credit for coining it? After all, Perry gets credit for moonbat. Gimme credit and I won’t charge anyone for using it.

  • nick

    “Proud as I am of my use of language I simply lack the vocabulary to properly express my loathing and contempt for this lot.”
    I have a few good words to expand your vocab.
    lets start with
    “bunch of wankers ! ”
    “tossers”
    “arseholes”
    “mendacious cunts”
    I hope that was of some help to you.

  • This got me in a tizzy this morning too.

    They are already enslaved to the state for the years before the age of 16. It’s a great chance to get used to being bored.

    What got me was Alan Johnson saying:
    “It should be as unacceptable to see a 16-year- old working, with no training, no education,……”

    Surely he should have had some sodding education already? Or were the previous 11 years just a warm up.

  • Brad

    I can only believe that after 16 years the State hasn’t programmed the youth to be docile State “dumb-terminals” and are hoping the extra 2 years will do the trick.

    And reading between the lines, the first X number of years’ “education” don’t leave people skilled enough to do anything! What an admission! And the typical Statist solution? Even More! “Those last 2 years are going to packed to the rafters with skillification.”

    Here in the good ole’ USA we have gone from the era of my grandfather in which an 8th grade education sufficed (granted he was born in 1899) through the era of high school (12th grade), on through a goodly number of folk getting a 4 year undergraduate degree, and now half of those getting a masters level. So the “youth” are now those who are 25 and are for the first time getting a real job (e.g. not waiting tables or delivering pizzas). The period of juvenility has been elongated over the last 6-7 decades. And who benefits? The State and the teacher’s union. More “demand” means more teachers, more taxation, more mind control.

    Lovely.

  • Alcoholiday writes:

    … but surely this will result in less “training courses” from private employers? Currently they can employ people and train them without the need to gain government sanction for any training given. The extra costs incurred from obtaining “approved” status will surely dissuade many businesses from employing under-18s, and they will instead …

    with the precursor:

    I usually stay off Samizdata comments threads as, to be honest, I’m out of my depth.

    Well, from where I’m sitting, you seem to be well connected with reality. Comment more here; it requires no government licence! It’s just:

    A blog for people with a critically rational individualist perspective.

    Best regards (with apology, to an appropriate extent, to “the management”)

  • Oh please this is Blairitania,soon to become Brownistan,nothing works,this won’t.All this is,is another device to hide to unemployment figures,due to rise dramatically with the recession in the retail sector and the swathe of bankruptcies in small and medium businesses.

  • Chris Harper

    Nick,

    Well, yes, all of them. I would have thought those particular words, and in those combinations, went almost without saying, although it does give a great deal of pleasure to use them. However, I was thinking something both more venomous and vitriolic, but possibly a little less bluntly anglo-saxon. Although ‘mendacious’ is getting there.

    Something like perhaps, “utterly mendacious at their most honest”, or “shallow to the core”? Or the old unoriginal – “don’t have two neurons to synapse”.

  • Ron Brick writes:

    All this is,is another device to hide to unemployment figures, …

    One of my concerns too, but it does need a careful analysis.

    Best regards

  • Paul Marks

    It is the old dream of the “direction of labour” which statists often think is a new idea, but has been part of nasty regimes as far back in history as one cares to look.

    The reason that the policy in this case is being directed at 16-18 year olds is “the children” factor.

    If one talks about “the children” almost any regulation or government spending scheme seems to become more acceptable to many people.

    “We must ban this, because children might see it”, or “we must ban this because children might get their hands on it” – and (with spending schemes) “the government must at least pay medical bills [or whatever] for the children”.

    Really the statists would like to control everyone, but it is less difficult to hit the under 18 year olds because they can be called “the children”.

  • At times, Paul is just superb.

    Best regards

  • Sunfish

    The question then becomes: is after-school or school-vacation employment also to be forbidden? Then how will children learn how to actually get and keep work, manage money, etc?

    When I was a teenager, when I wasn’t camping or fishing I mowed lawns and pulled weeds and changed oil for three months and shoveled snow for pay nights and weekends in the winter. I’ll wager most Middle American kids did something similar to some greater or lesser extent. My sister flipped burgers. Laugh all you will, but that’s where teenagers will learn a work ethic. I can’t imagine the UK being that much different either.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that work ethics, ethics and general, and independence are in the crosshairs with this proposal. People who can lead ethical and moral lives without outside help, and keep their own counsel on how to live, are not the natural New Labor constituency.

    Also, if the Government is to pass on any “training” program, then what would they know about the subject? Is there a Minister of Determining Whether Little Anthony Is Competent To Be a Line Cook/Tesco’s Night Produce Stocker/Apprentice Draftsman/Chicken Farmer? And God help you guys if there is.

    Hell, I’m in one of a few “essentially governmental” professions, where it actually makes sense for government to decide who is and is not competent. Yet, the relevant agency can barely keep up with setting standards for 10,000 people in a state of over four million in one general area. How a wedding-cake bureaucracy will achieve same in a nation of tens of millions is quite beyond me.

  • Tedd McHenry

    After all, the idea apparently works fine in Canada. They simply enforce the law by taking away young people’s driving licenses if they attempt to work for a living.

    Can somebody expand on this? I’ve lived in Canada all my life and I have no idea what’s being referred to here.

  • How is this going to be squared with the proposals to lower the voting age? To paraphrase,”No representation without taxation.”

  • Paul

    To quote Nigel:

    Ron Brick writes:

    All this is,is another device to hide to unemployment figures, …

    One of my concerns too, but it does need a careful analysis.”

    When you talk about this needing a careful analysis, do you mean you consider it a serious possibility that this is a sincere attempt by the state to help us? Just curious…

    P.S. Does anyone here have a good word to say about this scheme? Of course it’s a scandal, but I can’t be bothered to write about it again.

  • According to both the Guardian and Telegraph articles, Canada already has a school leaving age of 18, full-time work below that age is banned and one of the enforcement methods is removal of driving licenses.

    I know nothing at all about Canada, but even if this “works” over there, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be easily enforceable in the UK (never mind justified).

  • RAB

    Well where to start. Many good comments made already.
    But let’s look on the bright side.
    This is never going to happen.
    Several reasons.
    1. Teachers. I come from a long line of them and know many more. All the ones I am aquainted with in State Secondary education, know , not only the year, but the week and hour that their retirement comes up, so fed up are they by the State system.
    Contrastingly the ones I know in the Private sector would be happy to carry on till they drop.
    Those in the state sector cannot wait to get rid of their illiterate, violent and disruptive pupils at fifteen. How more illiterate does this lunatic government think they will be after 3 more years “Schooling”. How more thuggish and disruptive to the tiny minority left who want to learn???
    2. Well presumably this will take an act of Parliament, and as this is a dead in the water government, it will not pass. Being bonkers even to the touchy feely “DAVE” party.
    3. Well there was going to be more than three, but as I have just hosted a pleasant dinner party and feel in need of bed and a cwch with the misses, I will leave you with this-
    If you have children, or are contemplating having them, and you live in the UK, you have only two choices.
    Go private , or do as Alice does, educate at home and socialise naturally (the state doesn’t think we can do that for ourselves see!)
    The alternative is, if you put your child into the British State educational system, watch their intellect and potential be halved from the age of 4 to 11. Beyond which point the damage will have been done and nothing can repair it.
    Think I’m Joking?
    Well I wouldn’t risk it, and I dont have kids, but I seem to be godfather to quite a few.

  • Sarah

    I always thought that the O-Level/GCSE was meant to be “all that stuff you have to know in order to be a good worker” and then the later education was supposed to be specialized, in case you wanted to be “a good worker who skips some steps, and might be able to call oneself a professional before the age of 40.” I mean, I’m still confused about British education (what the heck is up with these “Key Stages,” and why does the BBC international edition assume I know what they’re supposed to mean??) but that part I thought I understood.

    In any case, I’m not sure there’s any way out of banning all under-18s from working, if you really intend to get 50% of your population involved in education. They’re the most likely ones to stick with it once you get them going (fewer distractions & responsibilities, as a class) and they’re already rather used to being told they can’t do things. So, while, regrettable, I’m afraid this move was probably unavoidable.

    And if it makes you feel any better, in the US it’s murder trying to get hired on full time when you’re 16 or 17, even if you’ve graduated high school. I graduated at 16 and still had to go to the school district to get permission to work during the school week. I was a sophomore in college before I could work in many jobs, because of the list of rules (e.g. I couldn’t work before 7am, or after 9pm, during summers I was limited to 40 hours a week, and many places wouldn’t hire me because there was a $10,000 fine per violation hanging over their heads.) I was also stuck at the lowest level of those jobs I did get, because there was equipment I wasn’t allowed to touch and tasks I wasn’t allowed to undertake, which were required of shift leads and managers.

  • Chuck Canuck

    I hate to tell you this but there is no law in Canada that says you have to remain in school until you’re 18, nor do they take your drivers license away. There are a great many teenagers working in every industry and no one bats an eye. Whatever your source is it’s sadly mistaken.

  • guy herbert

    I’m still confused about British education (what the heck is up with these “Key Stages,” and why does the BBC international edition assume I know what they’re supposed to mean??) but that part I thought I understood.

    You are not the only one. Despite the background war on selection, English and Welsh Education was not only comprehensible but largely coherent from 1944 to 1980. It was the nationalisation in the 1980s – the Thatcher administration laying the foundation for our 21st century world in a way only very few of us pointed out at the time was stupid and dangerous – that began the rapid slide to total incomprehensibility in detail. One can make some sense of it by noting that our education system has moved from a concern with capacity (what you get out) to one with compliance (what you put in), as contrariwise the rhetorical justification has become more utilitarian.

    Though requiring people to be “in education or training” to 18 will have the interesting side-effect of adjusting unemployment statistics downwards, work is not desirable under the current regime because it permits the individual to support himself. That’s a point against it. Work is desirable as a social goal, as performative compliance with the public good (as determined by the public authorities). If your work in your own interests doesn’t meet that end, whether or not someone wants to pay you for it, then goodbye.

  • guy herbert

    PS – Despite the background war on selection, English and Welsh Education was not only comprehensible but largely coherent from 1944 to 1980.

    Which is not to say, of course, that it was perfect. It was sometimes flummoxed by gifted children from non-professional backgrounds, and by those who didn’t develop in step with the majority turning out brighter or dimmer than first assessed. It may have specialised too much, and had oddly fixed ideas about the social ranking of subjects. But much less so than now.

  • Well, it was not coherent in 1976 when my school was forcibly made Comprehensive, having to cope with ESN to Oxbridge.

    I don’t know what “key stages” are (sounds like tommy rot to me) and I still call 15-16 year olds “5th Formers”. I cannot understand why that terminology needed to be altered – a total waste of energy – fiddling while Rome “bernz”.

  • Ham

    It seems pertinent to recall a question that Mr Broooon was asked after delivering his last pre-budget speech.

    Shadow finance minister Paul Goodman asked Mr Brown to confirm the “simple but little known claim that unemployment among young men in Britain is now the highest in the whole developed world”.

    The chancellor said: “It is completely untrue.”

    sauce

    I didn’t really believe the assertion to be true when I first heard it. Despite Brooon also denying it, I felt that it was most likely to be an exaggeration on behalf of the Toryboy. But, as many have pointed out here already, working till you’re eighteen has all the hallmarks of a quick fix of the unemployment figures, and there may just be some very scary unemployment figures to be fixed (scary, especially because we know what young men do when they can’t work).

  • guy herbert

    I’ve no reason to believe either that it is true or that it is untrue. The unemployment rate is a statistical artefact that means different things in different countries, in any case. But I’d love to know how something could be incompletely untrue. (I doubt Brown means that it is demonstrably provable in formal logic.)

  • Nick M

    Absolute Cobblers. Is Blair now just taking the piss because he wont be around much longer?

    This is wrong for so many reasons that I’ll stick to just one.

    This is the final nail in the coffin of the engineering apprenticeship at 16.

    Goodbye British manufacturing, been nice knowing ya!

    Paul is right, they’ll get this through with the “think of the children, the bay-bees” line of rhetoric and there will be nothing iDave or The Minger will be able to do about it without seeming to be wicked bastards who want to stick the kiddies down mines for 25 hours a day. Mind they probably agree with the proposal. I wouldn’t put any level of scumbaggery past iDave and The Minger.

  • nic

    Whether unemployment in the 16-18 age group has gone down significantly seems to be a rather confusing questions. I have seen both the times and the telegraph claim it from recent Office of National Statistics reports – but I also saw an analysis by Barclay’s Capital that seemed to think it was a statistical glitch caused by more 16-18 year olds becoming eligible for various benefits even if they stay in education and training. So it does indeed come down to definitions.

    What we can be quite sure is that all the various fancy statist policies like New Deal certainly haven’t improved the situation of young people. So they are either worse off, or the same as when Labour came to power.

  • Paul

    If you want to get an idea of the true level of unemployment in this country, just drop in at your local FE college. I used to teach at one until I could stand it no longer: if you’re in any doubt what this obsession with education is about, please, go and see for yourself.

  • I hate to tell you this but there is no law in Canada that says you have to remain in school until you’re 18, nor do they take your drivers license away. There are a great many teenagers working in every industry and no one bats an eye. Whatever your source is it’s sadly mistaken.

    Chuck,

    The sources were the Guardian and the Telegraph articles, but I checked and one of the Canadian states does indeed have this law whereby under eighteens may only work if they are in a certified training scheme.

    I didn’t say “the whole of Canada” anywhere, and neither did the Guardian or the Telegraph: the point was that it was the law in Canada.

  • I think the rhetoric has shifted as well, with Alan Johnson quoted as saying “We should find it equally repellent that a youngster of 16 is not getting any training.” In other words, we no longer just need to ‘think of the children’, the new catchphrase is ‘think of the youngsters!’, a directive that can be much more broadly applied.

  • HJHJ

    Recent figures have shown that there are now more 16-24 year olds in the UK not in employment, education or training (so-called NEETs) than there were in 1997. This is despite hundreds of millions spend on the “New Deal”, the government paying some students to stay on at school, and a massive expansion in the numbers going to ‘university’.

    The number of Neets is about 1.2 million (a 20% increase since 1997) which represents about one in six people in this age group.

    So forcing them to stay on at school will make the figures look better and will help mask the real level of unemployment. That’s why NuLabour wants to do it.

  • Wolfie

    I remember the whole debate about the National Curriculum in the 1980s since I was at school at the time and wanted to know whether I was going to be forced to sit through various subjects I didn’t like up until the age of 16.

    Before then, schools were left to teach much what they wanted to teach. The concern at the time centred on left wing education authorities (local councils with responsibility for schools) or teachers introducing politically slanted (anti-Conservative, pro-gay etc) lessons and at the same time failing to give children an adequate grasp of English and Mathematics.
    To the battle cry “Something must be done to make sure our kids know the 3 R’s”, the Thatcher government announced they would introduce a National Curriculum (just like they have in France, and they do thing so much better over there!) to make sure there were English lessons and Maths lessons being delivered in all schools.

    What happened in reality was that a committee of the “great and good” in the educational establishment was put together and assembled a National Curriculum which dictated exactly what each cohort of children should learn at each stage in their pre-16 education.
    Each 2 year division of that time became a “Key Stage”.

    So a political initiative designed to ensure the basics were covered adequately became an overbearing centralised mechanism for enforcing uniform mediocrity.

  • Nick M

    Paul,

    Round where I lie there are many dubious “colleges”. Some are immigration scams and others are self-fulfilling state (i.e. you, me and uncle Tom Cobley) funded nonsense. I once made enquiries about a couple of little computer courses and it turned out that most of the staff were “graduates” of these colleges. But hey, at least they’re not unemployed!

    I didn’t do the courses. Instead I got some books and figured it out at home. It was quicker, cheaper and simpler for me to do this and I could still work and apply my skills practically rather than do endless crappy assignments.

    So much of government expenditure is weirdly circular like this.

    Wider, still and wider, shall thy bounds be set.

  • Chris Harper

    Nick M,

    Yeah, I recently started as a lecturer at one of these colleges in Australia, and the quality of training and student is abysmal. All the other trainers are straight out of the courses and have no experience applying their knowledge at all.

    I am to describe how I have dealt with situations, and applied the technologies in real life examples, giving them caveats on what the books have to say, but no one else is able to do so. The whole thing is dreadful.

  • 1327

    Nick there are similar “colleges” here also. Most are aimed at the special group of the day the Govt is throwing money at such as long term unemployed or unemployed illiterate teenagers. The scam is basically that they are paid per student they have and then get a bonus if an ex-student gets a job. So they take on a few students and then when the course is over employ those students as trainers for the next lot of students and so on and on. That way they are getting cash for both the students and the trainers. Often the training consists of nothing more than the trainer driving the students to the seaside for the day. I sometimes get calls from them wanting placements for their students but no one ever turns up for appointments.

  • Howard R Gray

    Raising the school leaving age? Wonders will never cease! More state Ed and less education into the bargain. The expansion of Big Ed, one of the junior brothers of Big Brother, is more about control and keeping the antisocials off the streets. The fantasy that the yobocracy can be reformed by staying in edu-jail any longer will be busted. Sorry I thought it was busted. Though, on the pseudo positive side, the removal of juvenile job seekers will boost the stats in favour of reduced unemployment figures.

    This is smoke and mirrors folks, see it for what it is!

    May I hazard a guess at some of the outcomes?

    1. The level of in school violence will escalate as the edu-jail system is expanded. Mean spirited lawless louts will probably proliferate as a result of this one.

    2. Educational certification will become a shade more bogus than it already is. In a world of prizes for all, the luster of the prize diploma will tarnish on delivery.

    3. Compulsory vocational training is an oxymoron. How can you compel the emergence of a sense of vocation? I don’t quite get how that will work out, do you?

    4. I don’t suppose the level of numeracy or literacy will improve, after all, these thing don’t really matter any more. State enshrined idiocy won’t improve the level of perceptiveness in the minds of the electorate, thus more of this wachocratic nonsense will be dreamed up in the future and “they” will be induced to accept it. Oh my!

    Now for the unintended consequences of all this…….

    Here is where it gets interesting, frankly I don’t know what will happen. Do you?

    Will there be a black market in teenage full employment? Will full time juvenile drug pushers be taking a stand on national insurance contributions?

    Where is Ivan Illich when you need him? Sorry he passed on in the nick of time.

  • One thing that appears to be the case in this “idea” is that the EMPLOYER will have to fund the “training”.

    1. If it is a private company it will be either forced to “train” young people even when all is done or not necessary or abandon the hiring of young people altogether (and be fined for not employing enough?). If anything at all happens, costs will go up and competitiveness will go down.
    2. If it is a public sector entity it will comply will all these moonbat regs and quotas, sending the yoof off to these courses. I suspect it will be “encouraged” via targets to actively hire 16-18 year olds once central wonks realise no private companies are hiring 16-18 year olds anymore (see 1, above).
    3. Regardless, the flaccid and phoney education sector will win. As it is “compulsory”, the non-industry that appears to already exist will bloat still further. Expect people like Crapita and other parasitical “Fifth Sector”§ entities to move in to this guaranteed market.

    § I call it the “Fifth Sector” as it is not truly private, public, voluntary and certainly not inactive. It is busily non-productive in a heat-not-light way and utterly parasitical on the state. If a Fifth Column wanted to invent a sector to attack the National well-being, this is the sector they would create – the “Fifth Sector”.

  • Nick M

    Howard,

    Compulsory vocational training is an oxymoron

    Brilliant observation.

  • James

    I’d just like to say that I too have lived in Canada my whole life, and nowhere do they prohibit people under 18 from working, let alone take away their driver’s licenses. Despite what the Gaurdian says.
    Also, that is the same in every “state”.

    I may be speculating here, but I think the original author may not be too much of a Canada expert.

  • nic

    “§ I call it the “Fifth Sector” as it is not truly private, public, voluntary and certainly not inactive. It is busily non-productive in a heat-not-light way and utterly parasitical on the state. If a Fifth Column wanted to invent a sector to attack the National well-being, this is the sector they would create – the “Fifth Sector”.”

    TimC, we already have a standard description for such a sector. It is properly called “organised crime”. Just because they use statute and police protection to launder people’s money, and the CEO of Crapita probably doesn’t have “the” as his middlename, doesn’t mean that this particular sector isn’t straightforward extortion. After all, the average gang’s business is simply a “non-voluntary commercial security agency” and this new crop will simply be non-voluntary commercial education agencies!

  • Paul

    Nick M,

    Your experience tallies exactly with what I’ve seen. I’ve worked in further education, “community” adult education, and higher education, and often felt rather sorry for the students who believed that education always meant paying teachers to teach them. Most of what I and others taught could have been gleaned from a book, just as easily and at a fraction of the cost of a course. Of course, this assumes a certain level of intelligence (competence in reading and reasoning) and some motivation on the part of students.

    My own feeling is that the state should make only the bare minimum compulsory: pupils should be schooled until they’ve acquired sufficient facility with English, maths and reasoning (I’d love to see philosophy taught from a young age — provided the state doesn’t decide what’s taught). Then why not give them their liberty? Those who want to go on and learn would have the wherewithal to bootstrap themselves into any subject that takes their fancy: those who’ve had enough of schooling can take an apprenticeship or just get a job.

    Previous generations had much more demanding lives than most of today’s listless sybarites: my grandfather, like many of his contemporaries, left school in his early teens to support his family, but continued to improve himself from books. He started work as a dogsbody and ended up on the board of a manufacturing company. …And he’d have had no truck with Blair’s bogus “lifelong learning” state-funded job-creation wheeze. In times past, autodidacts were far from rare. Why can’t we follow their lead? Nowadays, everyone has to have a piece of paper from one of the state-approved piece-of-paper vendors. Never mind that the piece of paper isn’t worth anything much and requires great inconvenience and expense to acquire — it’s become the sine qua non of modern life.

  • Chuck Canuck

    Alice – regaarding no work for school kids in Canada: After reviewing all 10 provinces and territories School Acts the following is true
    a) Mandatory attendance stops at 16 years or graduation, whatever comes first except for one province (there are no states is Canada) where if you haven’t graduated you must attend school until you’re 18 years old.
    b) it is illegal to hire any one under 16 and make them work during school hours. If over 16, then the principal must approve the student working during school hours.
    c) some School Districts have a program where hours worked contribute to credit for graduation if a student is enrolled in this program, otherwise no credit. (very few School Districts have these programs but they do exist).
    d) A two week work job experince program is manadatory in some grade 12 curriculums.
    e) No School District or School Act limits when a student may work after school hours, nor is there any means of regulating such employment by schools. The labor code does have some child labor laws that may apply.

    Provinces try to keep student enrolled until they graduate, but given the looming labor shortage in this country, more job focuused training is going on all the time. This may have resulted in in the misinformation of your sources. The issuance of a drivers license is not and never has been something a school can regulate.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    My old man enlisted in the Royal Air Force at 17 and by the age of 20, was navigating jet fighters 40,000 ft above the North Sea. Clearly an irresponsible and shocking example to our yoof. He should have been studying some soft-humanities degree instead.

    I actually think that the school-leaving age should be reduced, not raised, and the regulatory burdens on employers should be cut to make it easier to take on 15-year-olds, for example, as apprentices. It would surely help reduce some of the boredom many youngsters feel, give them a sense of pride and focus, and reduce crime and anti-social behaviours. The education system – through vouchers or tax credits – should be adjusted so that such teenagers can pick up their education later on.

    The whole thrust of social/education/other policy in recent decades has been to infantilise the young population, reduce the initiative of people to go out and learn the value of money. No wonder problems of indebtedness, crime and the rest are getting worse.

    But hey, it will create lots of jobs for civil servants and other members of Labour’s client state, which of course is the whole reason behind this. We have to give those Guardian-readers something to do for a living. (sarcasm off)

  • Paul

    I actually think that the school-leaving age should be reduced, not raised, and the regulatory burdens on employers should be cut to make it easier to take on 15-year-olds, for example, as apprentices. It would surely help reduce some of the boredom many youngsters feel, give them a sense of pride and focus, and reduce crime and anti-social behaviours.

    Exactly — cut them free and let them get on with life, rather than insisting they languish in boredom until the Devil finds work for their idle hands. Allowing the more restless youngsters to start work as an apprentice at fifteen (or even fourteen) is not irresponsible or inhumane. Ask any member of the generation who left school at that age what they thought of the old system. In fact, giving them this option is a good bit more humane than forcing them to remain shackled to the state education project, learning next to nothing and becoming ever more unemployable. Create a system which teaches them to read, write, calculate and reason, then allow them to escape and make their own way. …You just know, though, that were anyone to table such a proposal, it would be swiftly denounced with much affected outrage and rhetoric about “child labour”.

    The education system – through vouchers or tax credits – should be adjusted so that such teenagers can pick up their education later on.

    Freedom, flexibility, convenience — an excellent idea, but pure heresy in the eyes of the statists.

  • Andrew Lale

    Interesting, perceptive and meritorious though many of your comments are, is anybody going to DO anything about all this stuff? I detect a clear feeling that all three big parties are clearly incapable of getting both education and preparing young people to participate in the economy right. But unless somebody is willing to create a party that will utilise these sound principles in its policies, you’re all just whingers. And Britain has a vast number of those, very often to its detriment.

  • Paul

    “But unless somebody is willing to create a party that will utilise these sound principles in its policies, you’re all just whingers.”

    It’s something I’ve thought about off and on for the past few years: new parties seem seldom to get anywhere, owing to voter apathy and/or entrenchment. UKIP appear to have made inroads, however: it might be worth writing to them with one’s complaints — they may be more willing than the main parties to listen to Joe Ordinary. Independent candidates sometimes win, but they too are pretty damn rare, and tend to succeed only in fairly safe constituencies where the incumbent is actively hated, and even then, success is highly dependent on other factors.

    If you were to form a party, or stand as an independent, raising your profile would be the first task (assuming your policies have been hammered out). And you’d be up against the assembled might of the main parties’ publicity machines. Maybe the Internet might be put to good use in some clever way…

    If anyone has any suggestions, I for one would love to hear them. (If the Samizdata gods are reading this, it may be worth starting a separate thread on the subject.)

  • Paul

    Forget all that stuff about forming a new party: one exists. UKIP. All these years and I never knew… See the thread
    “Circling the drain”
    .
    (Or just go to their website and check out their education policy.)

    And no, I’m not a member! (Is anyone?)

  • cascadian

    The comments regarding Canada are interesting, but incorrect, like a lot of bureaucratic bafflegab it is easier to point to another jurisdiction instituting similar policies to bolster ones arguments, it has the cachet of being tried and tested.

    In this case that is entirely false, the scheme to keep kids in school until 18 or deny them a drivers licence is an idiot proposal of the Liberals in Ontario (a Canadian Liberal might just as accurately be called a socialist). Who knows, it is stupid enough to be enacted, stay tuned.

    BTW got my basic education in England in the sixties at a secondary modern school, followed up with the ONC day release scheme drudgery and HND. During the training our great and glorious Labour government applied wage controls when I was earning ten quid a WEEK, right then and there I decided to emigrate. Best decision I ever made. Thanks Harold Wilson and an honourable mention to his assistant Edward Heath.

    I see things have not changed much.