Boosting economy should start with better, all around education for all

Richard Lambert, Director-General of the Confe...

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TODAY, the papers and think tanks are all ganging up on the Chancellor to change economic course in light of the grim unemployment figures that were outlined yesterday.


It comes, as yesterday, in Prime ministers questions, David Cameron was grilled by the leader of the opposition Ed Miliband over the jobless rising to 2.75 million.


Cameron did his best to act statesman-like, but there’s no doubt that the longer the government lacks a plan of growth, the more the opposing arguments will start to resonate with the British people.


Although, I’m sceptical that adding more debt to existing debt is indeed an answer to the problem. And this problem won’t be solved over night.


Youth unemployment has also reached almost a million, with 991,000 now on the dole.


The papers are all effectively calling for the government to act on growth, and stop dithering – some are also advocating tax cuts, and business tax relief for those firms who hire young Brits.


It sounds like an echo of former PM Gordon Brown’s controversial statement, “British jobs for British workers.”


Can we really afford tax cuts? Isn’t that adding to the deficit?


In terms of the tax relief for British firms who do their best to hire young Brits, it sounds to me like we are launching slowly into protectionism, something that politicians have been against from the start.


But maybe protectionism in the short term, will do us some good in the longer term?


There’s no doubt Cameron and Osborne need to do something on growth. But is it really as easy as opponents claim.


Sitting on the sidelines pontificating about what to do is easy, but when you’re in power, it’s another matter. For me, this goes further than just offering token gestures like Ed Balls’s VAT cut for one year, or, indeed, grand promises of British protectionism or printing more money.


The whole economic situation  goes right back to one thing: education.

I’ve always said that for people to feel like they have a stake in society – a better “all around” education is the key.


For too long, this country has been obsessed for far too long with “paper” based qualifications – and Labour did exacerbate the problem with their 50% target of 50% of Brits studying higher education.


Also, with soaring inflation, and stagnant wages, it isn’t any wonder people think they will be better on benefits, rather than in work. That mindset will not change – unless there is a will from politicians to create a proper all around education for younger people.


Youngsters are coached in passing exams, but not coached in dealing with real ife “work.”


Billy Bragg, last week on Question Time was right as well. People need to be paid a decent wage. It needs to be in general line with inflation – for people to feel that work really does pay.


Ed Balls keeps saying that you don’t rip out the foundations of the House when the foundations are flimsy. He is right, to some point.


But what we need to do is to totally rebuild the foundations of the old economy – and then make them solid for future generations – and by that, I mean, opportunity, and, indeed, less focus on paper based skills.


Better, more targeted career advice would also be a good start for pre-18-year-olds.


It all comes down to the will of politicians. Is there really the will to renew the foundations of an ageing system – which has trapped the  British unemployed? The cycle will continue if politicians just tinker around the edges.

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