I have written so many times on education in this blog (notably here) that anyone would think that it was a blog about education in England. It is not, but education is one of the most sensitive and complex issues affecting our nation. And sadly, it is largely met with apathy by the English public.
Yesterday’s announcement about the numbers of young people in England who are not in education or training- the root of the word ‘NEET’, itself fast becoming another way to stigmatise young people betrayed by the old- was met by a deafening silence even among those who purport to care about England. The figures are absolutely astonishing.
The BBC reports that
A total of 938,000 – 15.6% of 16-24-year-olds – were in this category (Neet) in December 2010, the highest final-quarter figure since 2005.
To put that into context; that is a larger number of persons than the Israeli army. It is three times the entire population of Iceland, and if England’s NEETs were a country of their own, they would be the 156th (of a possible 224) most populous nation on Earth.
According to these statistics from The Guardian, in the third quarters of 2009 and 2010 (conventionally the time when those who have recently graduated begin the job search in earnest), it tipped over one million.
Such an abject failure of young people in this country is truly shameful. Unfortunately, it is to be expected, and can only be seen as the logical product of Labour’s policies on immigration, University education and of course, education.
The logical correlation between vast numbers of economic and other migrants to the UK, and more specifically, to England, and employment problems of English people has been made for several years now. MigrationWatchUK devote an entire subsection of their website to detailing the key analyses of the impact of immigration on youth employment. Two striking analyses specific to England are as follows:
- The relationship between immigration and youth unemployment is positive and significant in the 50 local authorities in England with the highest rates of migration in the period 2003 – 2009, and in London.
- The relationship becomes stronger and more adverse the higher the rate of immigration. In a sample of those Local Authorities outside London with the highest rate of immigration, the relationship is very strong (correlation of 0.9), and shows that for every 1000 immigrants into these areas, on average, the number of young unemployed rises by around 900.
A somewhat unsurprising connection there. Even the House of Lords, say MigrationWatchUK, have their finger more on the pulse than does the Commons:
The House of Lords report on the economic impacts of immigration published in April 2008 commented (para. 84) that:
The recent ITEM Club report points to the potential negative impact of immigration on youth unemployment. The report notes that youth unemployment has increased by about 100,000 since early 2004 and the participation rate has dropped from 69.4% to 67.4%. “Given the age and skill profile of many of the new immigrants, it is possible that ‘native’ youngsters may have been losing out in the battle for entry-level jobs.
The cringeing nature of the mention of ‘native’ (an inaccurate and patronising term at the very best of times) quite aside, it is by no means unfair, biased, or – dare I say it, racist – to suggest that immigration has had a serious, widespread and detrimental effect on young people.
Universities were a key political pawn used so very effectively by the Blair Government to fiddle employment statistics and further the ‘fairness’ juggernaut at one fell swoop. The nonsense figure of ‘50% at University‘ was so transparently intended to drive down youth unemployment as to be positively arrogant in its assertion. However, Labour failed to notice that massive expansion in the University sector was never going to improve the quality of the education that students would receive: not all degrees or academic institutions were created equal, to paraphrase George Orwell.
The University notion, of course, was strengthened and reinforced by heavy-handed micromanagement at the 16-18 level as well. First came the farcical EMA payments, which were shortly followed by a very discreet, late-in-the-day Labour plan to raise the school leaving age to 18 which slipped past most people almost unnoticed.
However, these seem to be to no avail. The Guardian highlights the fact that
… since 2003, there has been a 6.8 percentage point rise in the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds in education and training, but a 15.6 percentage point drop in those in employment…
So where are the tangible benefits? What purpose is there keeping young people in education or training or pushing them into further education if there are no jobs available?
Can Labour blame their pseudo-Tory predecessors; the evil Thatcherites or post-Thatcherites? No. And furthermore, the stats demonstrate that Labour have also stumbled on a key point in their weltanschauung.
The Guardian stats demonstrate that towards the end of Labour’s first term in office, in the year 2000, the number was still a rather large figure of 629,000, with females actually outnumbering boys among that figure at a rate of 389,000 to 240,000. However, by the high figures of 2009, the gap had been closed to 565,000 to 509,000. Some proof, then, that Labour’s equality of outcome strategy had been hugely successful…
And yet in spite of the demonstrable and overwhelming evidence to demonstrate how Labour are directly responsible for this disgraceful abandonment of a generation of young people, they led last night’s YouGov poll: CON 38%, LAB 42%, LD 10%.
It is difficult to calculate how much political headway the Conservatives would make – in sections of the voting population that they had no impact on at the last election – if they actually made a concerted effort to draw attention to these facts.
But still the left carry on, blithely ignorant of the reality of what they have done, rattling their sabres in preparation for the next battle. Savitha Muppala for MedIndia includes an astonishing quote from Dave Prentist from Unison on the NEET problem:
According to Unison’s Dave Prentist, the government has taken a wrong step by removing the education maintenance allowance; this may cause many drop outs from college. “This will result in thousands more vulnerable young people at risk of falling into the Neet trap,” he said.
The mind boggles. His equation along this line is not only factually inaccurate and arrant nonsense, it is intentionally misleading and foolish.
And amid all the political wrangling, politicians are losing sight of the fact that there are thousands of gifted, able and innovative young people who see no prospects for themselves in this country. They have never been more able to leave should they so wish, and who could blame them?
To the rest of us, powerless to act, it is another example of England being driven into the ground by the left and ignored by the ‘right’.