Youth unemployment: anaylsis helps, but no substitute for action

20 August 2011

12:48 PM

20 August 2011

12:48 PM

Congratulations to David Miliband on his appointment to head up the ACEVO commission on youth unemployment. He is exactly the right man for the job and may be able to effect more genuine change than he could have
done as leader of the Labour Party.

A good starting point would be Polly Toynbee’s column in the Guardian today, which urges the
Coalition to turn its attention to the plight of young people.Her grim catalaogue of attacks on the young is indeed depressing:

“Just when young people most need help on what school subjects to take, on BTecs, HNDs and apprenticeships, the government is replacing careers advice with an online service, with no one to
question their choices and prod them forwards. The disastrous abolition of the educational maintenance allowance will make many wrongly opt out altogether. Add in the future trouble stored up in
the cuts to Sure Start, teen pregnancy prevention, anti-gang or other early interventions and prospects look bleaker still."

But it shouldn’t all be about central government initiatives. Cameron is right to say that small grassroots organisations are best placed to deliver results on the ground. He just
hasn’t worked out how to get them involved yet. Those who believe something should be done, need to get on and do it.

So watch this space for a major new initiative in Tottenham from New Deal of the Mind, which we will be launching on Monday to bring together the community to tell the story of the riots. 

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice thought.

  • rndtechnologies786

    Good think.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    I don’t mind at all if this is a promo for any organisation. I would like to know what works and what can be duplicated.

  • FvH

    This is basically just a promo for Martin Bright’s New Deal of the Mind company

    “Yeah we’re going to rock up to Tottenham and tell the story of the riots, and that will motivate all the yoot to go and build a career” !!!

    Less commercial puffery please in in the Speccie!!

  • Not a spectator

    Peter From Maidstone …

    I have volunteered for a number of programmes through Business In The Community (BITC) and local careers organisations. I don’t know how successful the programmes are, but if a few more of us were to ‘walk the walk’ who knows …

  • I S

    Any post that contains the dread phrase – ‘a good starting point would be Polly Toynbee’s column’ – must, by definition, be inherently worthless.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Hi Martin, where is some information about models that work and get young unemployed people into work?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    I am interested in two local areas. Maidstone, where I live, and Medway, where I have other connections.

    Maidstone has unemployment of 2338 as of June 2011, a rate of 2.5%, and Medway has 6674, a rate of 4.0%.

    Unemployment is up on last year, but down on last month.

    In Maidstone there were 660 18-24 year olds unemployed, and in Medway there were 1935 18-24 year olds unemployed.

    In Maidstone the ward with the highest unemployment, other than the centre of town, is my own ward with about 200 unemployed. In Chatham, the ward I am associated with has the highest rate of unemployment with about 650.

    There are therefore about 60 youth unemployed in my own ward, and about 200 youth unemployed in my ward in Chatham.

    What do you propose should be done? What model should be followed? How are the 200 youth unemployed I work among in Chatham to be reached and helped in to work? I am looking for a model that should be adopted. I have contacts and can make others. I am, to some small extent, a community leader. But what should be done?

    This is surely an opportunity for local, volunteer, private organisation and activity. But please point out some successful and duplicateable models.

  • Edward McLaughlin

    Best of luck to anyone who tries to help in this dreadful situation.

    I would suggest though, that if you want any young person – in fact, anyone at all – to take your efforts seriously, you would be best finding a name other than ‘New Deal of the Mind’.

    Apart from its ludicrous pretentiousness, it is simply going to perpetuate the received understanding of the last couple of decades, that the focus should be on things academic.

    What we need more than anything, is a return to the notion that working with the hands and senses – persevering to become a skilled craftsman, yes and woman – is a worthwhile pursuit.

  • Charlie

    Martin, you are ignoring attitude. Look at the hard work, discipline and willingness to accept criticism which enables a chef win a Michelin Star. The problem is that too many in the education stablishment do not adequately prepare children for the rigours of work. A British Principal Dancer at the Royal Ballet, said ” If you have the talent and determination one can become a King, with the determination a prince but ifyou have the talent but no determination , one will achieve nothing”.

    The massive expansion in post 16 education since the late 60s has often benfited the middle class lecturers rather than many of the students. Those at public school are taking twice as many maths, physics and chemistry A level and three times as many language A levels as those at comprehensives. To many FE courses do not deliver students with the technical skills and attitudes which the employers seek, that is why so many immigrants, especially those from E Europe are employed. With all the expansion of education since the 1960s we are still not producing enough engineers , only 22,000 when we need 37,000/yr- see Dyson. As Sykes of Imperial said ” A £1 spent at Imperial benefits the country more than a £1 spent at Thames Valley University.” I suggest you read A Sampson ” Changing Anatomy of Britain 1982″. In the 1960s we should have ensured a third of students read humanties, a third sciences and third engineering. If we want the manufacturing capability of Germany we need the German technical education system.Not one where ex-polys churn out vast numbers of humanities graduates who have not been academically challenged. Compare the amount of work needed to complete an Oxbridge humanities degree compared to most of the polys humanities degrees. If polytechnics had remained places of evening and part time education where craftsmen, clerks and technicians could complete vocational degrees enabling them to become engineers and scientists the UK would have the skilled workforce we need.
    Someone who completed a vocational degree through part time study , R Chadwick – Lnacaster, RJ Mitchell-Spitfire, B Wallis- R100 Airframe, Wellington, Bouncing and 10 T Bombs, swing wing technology became professional engineers without accumulating debt. Nowadays, very few ex-polys offer evening degree education in vocational subjects, one has to take time off work.Historicallly The Council of Engineering used run evening courses via polys. It was said that that to pass the Part 2 Inst of Mechanical Engineers Exams were harder than sitting a degree. Historically, many of the engineers did not have degrees, they were chartered and had passed the Part 2 exams of their relevant institutions via evening study.

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Martin, is there a model which has successfully been implemented in multiple locations to allow volunteer, charity and self-organising groups to develop youth employment projects that work?

  • Peter From Maidstone

    Sorry, the EMA was not working. Studies showed that the vast majority of those receiving it did not need it and used it as pocket money. If a late teenager does not know the value of education then bribing them to stay at school will not help them. Instead of the EMA funds might be better made available for schools to take children to museums, galleries, the theatre etc. I don’t object to additional opportunities being given to encourage a commitment to education but I do object to essentially the state taking pocket money from my children and giving it to others for no obvious reason other than to begin the experienece of demanding state benefits as a right as early as possible.

    None of my children have received EMA. We are not wealthy at all. But they are all staying on at school and going to university. Education should be taught as a benefit in its own right, as it is.