rethinking education, economy and society

July 3, 2014

Back to school for some of the NEETS: but for what sort of learning?

Filed under: YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT — sitemananger @ 7:34 am

070228_bored_students_02New Government figures (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lowest-rate-of-young-people-neet-for-20-years) show the number of 16-18 year old NEETS at the lowest level for 20 years with a drop of a fifth over the last year. 81% of the age group were in education or work based training at the end of 2013 (70% in full-time school or college). The reduction in NEETS coincides with the raising of the ‘participation rate’ rather than reflecting an increase in the number working –ONS  statistics for Feb to April 2014 showed only 85 000 of the quarter of a million 16 and 17 year olds who have left full-time education have found work. Apprenticeship participation also continues to be very low,– figures (https://radicaledbks.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/apprenticeships2.pdf)  showing only 71 000 starts by those under 19 and less than 6% of 16-18 year olds in ‘work-based’ learning. In fact , even before the raising of the participation age, as the Wolf Report recognised, most 16-17 year olds are as likely to have been ‘pushed’ back into full-time education because of lack of alternatives, rather than ‘pulled’ back by the prospect of increased opportunities for social mobility.

With increases in staying-on, there will continue to be debate about the nature of the 16-18 ‘sixth form’ curriculum with Labour being the strongest advocate of a new vocational/technical pathway (A Tech-Bacc) for the 50% of young people who don’t go to university. Yet it’s extremely unlikely that following a vocational course will increase the chances of employability. Few employers are familiar with vocational qualifications, those who may be, are still likely to favour candidates with A-levels –while those young people who can, continue to enrol for academic courses. Many of the ‘middle’ or ‘technician level’ jobs which these qualifications (and apprenticeships for that matter) are said to lead to, are now disappearing –or are being done by ‘overqualified’ graduates, while according to surveys, most employers report that they are generally happy with the skills of school and college leavers and that the majority are ‘ready for work’ (www.gov.uk/government/publications/youth-employment-in-an-international-context). The problem is that so few seek to recruit them!

Following Wolf’s advice that they provide low labour market returns, Michel Gove has pruned the number  of vocational qualifications that are available, demanded more ‘rigorous’ content and that they take on some of the characteristics of academic learning.  Here, he is at odds with Lord Baker who continues to open more University Technical Colleges (UTCs) providing vocational specialisation at 14 ( http://radicaled.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/book-review-bakers-proposals-are-not-a-real-alternative-to-gove/).

But if ‘vocational pathways’ do not provide opportunities this does not mean we should see the current academic qualifications as the way forward. In an increasingly uncertain world, all 16-18 year olds need a good general education that includes academic, vocational, practical and community based learning; but which also uses e-learning to the full and develops research skills.

About these ads

3 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on Apprenticeship, Skills & Employability..

    Comment by Paul Champion — July 3, 2014 @ 9:20 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Rodney Willett and commented:
    This is one of those subjects where some extremely radical thinking is needed – thinking which is usually rejected both by the DoE and the unions. Grrr.

    Comment by Rodney Willett — July 4, 2014 @ 11:35 am

  3. Thanks for another excellent analysis Martin and Patrick. It looks like Labour are going to make “skills” and “skills shortages” an issue – effectively shifting attention away from the economy and onto the alleged skills deficits of young people. We need a really effective critique of this policy and strong advocacy of the kind of broad education for all which you describe. Lots of work to do…

    Comment by Eddie Playfair — July 6, 2014 @ 2:12 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Silver is the New Black Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237 other followers

%d bloggers like this: