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Blog: Leave school - don't leave school? It doesn't make a difference to many youngsters

Jul 03, 2012

Has it really come to this? After years of schemes and projects, are we really seeing more teenagers leaving school with no job or training to go to?

The Government has revealed that fewer teenagers are opting to stay on for post-16 education. It’s the first fall in numbers for a decade.

I have a lot of sympathy for youngsters and their parents - and by default the teachers who have spent years educating them - because the real elephant in the room is that we are seeing more graduates enter lower paid jobs than ever before.

So let's put this scenario into perspective. You're 16, you've had enough of school and choose to leave but there are very few jobs and few training opportunities.

I think Brendan Barber, the TUC General Secretary, puts it succinctly when he says: “The future for these youngsters looks increasingly bleak. With so many people chasing a declining number of jobs, those fresh out of school with no work experience behind them are losing out every time to more experienced jobseekers.

“The government must now surely realise that its decision to cut the education maintenance allowance (EMA) has meant that thousands of teenagers from the UK’s poorest families can no longer afford to continue their education. Without qualifications their chances of finding work anytime soon are slim.”

If you have stayed on for A levels you've been led to believe that getting a degree is the doorway to a brighter future. But when you graduate five or six years later the rug is well and truly pulled from under your feet because there aren't enough well-paid graduate jobs to go around.

Sadly, the number of graduates in low paid jobs has doubled in the past five years.

To be fair, despite this and the previous Government’s best efforts, the British economy has never been geared up for so many graduates entering the job market.

That leaves the big question many 16-year-olds must be asking: Why continue in education for those extra years and then end up at the same level as those who bailed out at 16?

Who knows? I certainly don't have an answer and I'm sure there are increasing numbers of despairing teachers trying to inspire young people to look beyond the headlines and gain the crucial academic qualifications. Do we need to re-evaluate the entire education system and its purpose? Is it the youngsters making the wrong academic choices, or is it the education system failing them?

Whatever the reason, the real problem will come in the future when a wasted generation of despondent and disillusioned people may tell their children that education isn't worth it and will, ultimately, let them down too.

Sources:
Fewer staying for post-16 education: (Press Association) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5iGX2U8bZbEQqSqt_D...
Future is bleak for teenagers not in work or college, says TUC (http://www.tuc.org.uk/economy/tuc-21158-f0.cfm)
DESTINATIONS OF LEAVERS FROM HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM FOR THE ACADEMIC YEAR 2010/11 (http://www.hesa.ac.uk/content/view/2514/393/)

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