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:
- Does “approved training scheme” mean “what the government likes” or does it mean something more sensible and informed?
- How much will it cost to approve all post-16 on-the-job training schemes?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?