Young people are leaving the education system with less and less to show for the years they spent studying. Unprepared for the bloody battle for employment. Unequipped compared to their older counterparts in the job hunt. However, with a 37% turnout of voters between the ages of 18 to 24 at the last general election compared to the three-quarters of over 65s, is it our generation’s fault that our requirements to compete for careers are falling on deaf ears in Parliament?
The Schools Takeover event was a chance for young people to have their say on what needs to be done to resolve the issues facing school leavers. Using the medium of debate to share and strengthen their ideas, this was an opportunity for those next in line to brave the search for scarce employment to get their opinions out there and pray that they would be listened to whilst they were still in education.
The event began with two speeches from New Turn’s Hayley Carr and Lucy Makinson; presenting two different approaches for combating the current state of the young people’s job market.
Hayley promoted a new public sector scheme, the Nouveau Apprentice Policy. This is a strategy which would capitalise on the fact that this young generation, like none before, has grown up with technology, learning to use Windows has become an integral childhood past time, hence this is where their comparative advantage lies.
These Screen-agers are much more apt to perform computer-based roles than those older than them. Instead of leaving the school system with poor qualifications and being shooed straight into a dead-end career in manual labour, there would be a new part of the tertiary civil sector open to them, a branch built to maintain the fresh-faced products of education and provide them with hope.
Initially utilising their skills in basic admin roles, the starting salary that could be offered would be £12000 per annum but compared to the £50.95 a week on offer as unemployment benefits (totalling £2649.40 a year), this is plenty, especially as there would be a clear-cut path to success, career mobility, through the ability to pick up qualifications and specialise in their role to climb to the top.
Lucy took quite the opposite approach commencing with a quote from Phillip Blond, “Even in a country where everyone has a PhD, someone still has to sweep the streets”. This was a controversial speech built around the idea that less people should be able to attend – or be funded through – university, as this would revalue a degree back to what it once was, a symbol of academic merit, not another must-have on the hedonic treadmill for our generation.
She suggested that students should also be given a more realistic idea about the job prospects they could expect with a degree in their field. Stricter university criteria and frank information, would then be expected to inspire new-found pragmatism as university expenses would seem less worthwhile and so there would be increase demand for more diverse forms of further education which the government could provide.
Both speeches were met with heavy questioning from the floor. Whether or not politicians will listen, young people do care and they are prepared to get active for a cause – especially one so close to their pockets.
The speeches were followed by a debate over the motion, ‘this house would abolish private schools’, aimed at getting young people’s views on whether private schools blatant domination of the school system as a result factory has been too effective at deforming the market for higher education and employment.
CASE’s (Campaign for State Education) Arthur Baker and Harry Coath set out the argument that independent schools distort the system, taking 14% of teachers to cater for just 7% of pupils. Using higher salaries as bait to draw in the top teachers to produce ‘higher calibre’ students.
Arthur questioned whether exam results are only defining factor of a good education? Or are they just where the apparent inequality in education lies?
Their points were due to be retorted by a side from a top London-based private school, however braving the snow is clearly something left out of the independent school syllabus and due to a no-show, New Turn’s Babs Williams and Axel Landin had to step in playing the devil’s advocate to attempt to shield the dignity of private education.
They claimed that the views of private school students as superior snobs are outdated, now independent schools just offer a different form of education with proven results for those who can afford to pay. The debate quickly digressed into a lampooning of private schools from both sides, with certain members of the audience trying to maintain some of the honour of an independent education.
Overall, the event worked as an effective platform for young people to share their opinions, which will then be formalised through organisations such as Compass, CASE and New Turn as part of the All Doled Up campaign. It is through movements such as this that a supposedly left-wing 70% Etonian labour cabinet can be galvanised into taking action against the current flailing condition of state education.
Want to get involved in our campaign on youth unemployment All Doled Up. What will you pledge?
1. Join the campaign
2. Come to our events
3. Tell us your idea
The countdown’s started. We need your ideas – it could be yours, so get involved.