Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract?


by Guest    
3:10 pm - March 24th 2012

      Share on Tumblr

contribution by Izzy Koksal

In early April the Youth Contract project comes into force, and Nick Clegg will no doubt promote his pet project then.

Most young people stopped listening to Nick Clegg years ago, it seems he has nothing but contempt for us anyway.

His comments on the young unemployed include suggesting that we cannot dress ourselves in the morning and spend our time “sitting at home… glued to the TV”. I am genuinely baffled as to how he got away with making these comments without some sort of public outcry.

I may be unemployed, but I can still dress myself each morning, and I know of other young unemployed people who also manage this great feat. But he seems to have got away with this simply because we’ve given up listening to him.

The £1 billion Youth Contract seems to be Clegg’s answer to the issue of youth unemployment. However, the contract is nothing new, but rather a bolstering of three existing schemes: apprenticeships, the Work Programme, and Work Experience – all of which have raised significant concerns for their use of workfare.

The Youth Contract though will also fail to achieve anything at all for young people, focusing as it does on making the young person more ‘employable’ when the real problem is the lack of jobs.

There are 15 people applying for each McDonald’s vacancy. It’s not us with the problem Nick, it’s the economy and the education system that is failing so many young people.

Labour have responded recently with their own plan to tackle youth unemployment. Their ‘real jobs guarantee’ promises a job for six months for those aged 18-24 who have been unemployed for over a year.

Keen not to be seen as promoting yet another workfare scheme, which have provoked public outrage, they have emphasised that these jobs will be paid the national minimum wage. However, it also places heavy sanctions if the job seeker were to refuse one of these forced jobs.

The young person will be expected to work for 35 hours a week as well as conducting an intensive job search. They will only be paid for 25 hours a week at the national minimum wage as the other 10 hours are ‘training’. That works out to £3.56 per hour, well below the NMW.

None of the parties are demonstrating meaningful policies to deal with youth unemployment. They need to come up with better plans for youth jobs that are not based on workfare but which pay the living wage.

Reinstating welfare rights which have been undermined by the politicians’ penchant for sanctions is absolutely necessary as well. But firstly Nick Clegg should start with learning some respect.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest post.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Law ,Westminster


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


It’s not us with the problem Nick, it’s the economy and the education system that is failing so many young people.

Without a move away from capitalism there’s not an awful lot a government can do to address those issues, given that the market just always seems to decide to shaft the workers, so punishing people for the circumstances they find themselves in at least provides politicos with the illusion of useful action.

We need to ask how we got to this situation:

Overall, the latest figures show 958,000 young people aged 16 to 24 are not in school, work or training in the final quarter of 2011. That is one in six 16- to 24-year-olds. [BBC website 23 February 2012]
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17139135

Just one in six pupils in England has achieved the new English Baccalaureate introduced by the government, England’s league tables show. The new measure is of how many pupils in a secondary school achieve good GCSE grades in what the government says is a vital core of subjects. [BBC website 12 January 2011]

Cylux: “Without a move away from capitalism there’s not an awful lot a government can do to address those issues”

A lot of thoroughly “capitalist” countries in western Europe seem to be doing a great deal better.

@2 Like Greece?

We live in a society where education is only associated with utility and never for its’ own ends. This is OK when we have low unemployment levels but when there are so many young people who are unemployed, see @2, how do we expect them to work hard for qualifications when they see nothing at the end.

Our leaders have failed to a address the root causes (the system) and most have seen the duplicitous nature of this government, particularly Nick Clegg, what do you expect, our kids might be under educated but they’re not stupid.

Why should we pay any attention to anything Nick Clegg says? He is a either a compulsive liar, or an idiot.

“His comments on the young unemployed include suggesting that we cannot dress ourselves in the morning and spend our time “sitting at home… glued to the TV”.
There is nothing unique about this – it isn’t only the young unemployed who are so stigmatised and characterised in our society. Read any national newspaper, it is clear that people assume poor people are poor because they are inadequate and incapable of earning more than a pittance, unemployed people are unemployed because they are lazy, sick people are sick because they “eat wrong”, or drink or don’t “take care of ourselves”. In a ferociously right wing society – which is what we are now – the victims are to blame for their plight. That’s why the government’s attack on benefits are so popular. That’s why the Tories’ standing in the polls is high. It isn’t only about youth – it’s about everyone who isn’t one of the smugly self righteous people who don’t want to know about “losers” and who believe that “we’re all right”. The current population of England would never have voted for the Welfare State, and it certainly is not going to fight to save it.

Where do you get your statistic about 15 applicants for every McDonald’s job?

Why does Britain have that daunting problem of nearly 1 million NEETs (not in employment, education, or training) among 16-24 years old? Here are some of the likely reasons:

“Though white children in general do better than most minorities at school, poor ones come bottom of the league (see chart). Even black Caribbean boys, the subject of any number of initiatives, do better at GCSEs”
http://www.economist.com/world/britain/displaystory.cfm?story_id=14700670

Schools are too often asked to make up for wider failings in families and communities, the Chief Inspector of Schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw has said. [BBC website 23 March 2012]

The number of low-skilled workers born outside the UK more than doubled between 2002 and 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics. The figures show that almost 20% of low-skilled jobs are held by workers born abroad, up from 9% in 2002. [BBC website 26 May 2011]

Recent graduates are more likely to be working in lower-skilled jobs than they were 10 years ago, new figures suggest. More than a third of recent graduates were in non-graduate jobs at the end of 2011 – up from about a quarter in 2001. [BBC website 7 March 2012]

9. the a&e charge nurse

[4] “We live in a society where education is only associated with utility and never for its’ own ends. This is OK when we have low unemployment levels but when there are so many young people who are unemployed, see @2, how do we expect them to work hard for qualifications when they see nothing at the end” – that is an observation that I have come across a few times recently – one that seems hard to disagree with?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-thA_C-SoU (from 0:27 onward)

Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract?

Quite simply we shouldn’t.

Cylux: “@2 Like Greece?”

I regarded European Monetary Union as a bad idea from the start – but Blair, Mandelson, Patricia Hewitt, Dr John Reid, Michael Hesletine, Kenneth Clarke and Christopher Huhne etc were all very keen on Britain joining.

According to a recent interview in the Daily Telegraph on 2 December last, Jacques Delors is saying: Euro doomed from start.

Greece didn’t have a thriving capitalist economy even before the current hiatus, which is more-or-less why it ran into problems as a member of the Eurozone. The truth is that Greece should not have been in the Eurozone – not least because it didn’t meet the eligibility criteria in the Maastricht Treaty

Compare: German youth unemployment figures are expected to fall to their lowest levels since the country’s reunification in the coming months, according to a Saturday news report.
http://www.thelocal.de/national/20120324-41539.html

12. So Much For Subtlety

None of the parties are demonstrating meaningful policies to deal with youth unemployment. They need to come up with better plans for youth jobs that are not based on workfare but which pay the living wage.

Young people are unemployed because they are unemployable. Largely because the minimum wage is too high – if you have to pay people more than they produce, you won’t hire them. This is one way to reduce the minimum wage and hence is a good idea. You do not need to pay young people a living wage. Nor should we. They often stay at home. They rarely have families to support. And they are just not worth it. They do not produce enough to make it worthwhile.

The best solution would be to free up the labour market. Abolish minimum wages.

“His comments on the young unemployed include suggesting that we cannot dress ourselves in the morning and spend our time “sitting at home… glued to the TV”. I am genuinely baffled as to how he got away with making these comments without some sort of public outcry.”

I assume most people just concluded that Clegg himself found it difficult to get dressed or to tear himself away from daytime TV.

As with so much of what comes out of Clegg’s mouth, it would be very offensive – if one took it seriously.

How about this as a hypothesis. The large number of NEET young people in the UK is a direct result of the educational policies practised in the UK since 1945, in particular those in fashion since the 1970s.

The removal of any aspect of competition, be it in sport or in the classroom, and the imposition of the rule that there must be no losers, so everyone gets a prize, has so divorced young people from the reality of life after work as to make them completely unsuited for the labour market.

This explains why employers who are surveyed consistently complain about the attitude of British youth towards employment. The failure to respond to communication or to attend interviews, the unpunctuality, the attitude towards potential employers, the ‘take a sickie’ tendency, that pervades British youth.

Why bother to compete when everyone’s a winner, when everyone has a ‘right’ to a job. Is it therefore a surprise that employers favour foreign workers, who have not been inculcated with these counter productive attitudes?

If there is any fault with Nick Clegg’s statement, it is that he was not hard enough on those he was castigating.

J Price: “The removal of any aspect of competition, be it in sport or in the classroom”

That’s just rubbish. I live in a London borough and sit within walking distance of two maintained selective boys schools where the A-level candidates score better average results than at Eton. The London borough regularly comes at or near the top of the annual LEA league table for England based on average results in the GCSE exams, including both the local selective and comprehensive schools. Five local selective maintained schools are reckoned on independent assessments to among the best in the country. My son went to one of the schools within walking distance – there’s a huge competition for academic attainment within and between the local schools.

From my experience as a school boy of an exchange visit with a lycee in France in the early 1950s, I was amazed to discover that there was no school uniform for the lycee, the school day started without an act of worship, there were no RE lessons, no corporal punishment and no lessons scheduled for Wednesday afternoons in case anyone want to go off and do some sport – the lycee didn’t actually organise any sports. In short, the lycee had none of the featurs deemed absolutely essential for a good school in England but it nevertheless had a good academic reputation. In France’s tradition of secular education, parents who wanted RE lessons had to make an arrangement with a local priest for classes out of school hours on church premises.

IMO sports are a great distraction from academic attainment while the obscene salaries paid to professional footballers promote a delusion that education attainment has no bearing on earnings prospects.

Dear Bob,

I made no mention of religious education, so I wonder why you raise it.

I also suspect that the children you refer to from the schools in your area are most unlikely to be NEETs. They have got a good education. These are not the ones to whom Nick Clegg was referring. He was I suspect referring to the comprehensive school product, where the wrong ethos has been installed in the children, by the teachers and parents, who were themselves taught in this post 1945 educational blind alley.

14
I don’t know what period you studied in, or indeed which planet, you obviously haven’t had children going through the existing system. The sports analogy is rubbish, as was pointed out @15, it is a distraction.

The suicide rates of children taking GCSEs and degrees are increasing at an alarming rate, this has been attributed to the pressure to succeed and particularly schools who are competing for pole postion in the league tables.

16
And as for the post-1945 educational system, this was the period of the (allegedly) superior grammar system, I think you might have just shot yourself in the foot.

The educationalist policies to which I refer can be traced back to the post war period, but they really started being introduced into schools in the late 1970s by teachers trained in the leftist thinking of the 1960s.

I do not accept the arguments in 15 that the sports analogy is wrong, but it is simply part of the picture, not the whole picture. Life is a competitive process, producing winners and losers and schools are supposed to train children for life.

I myself went through school in the 1960s and 1970s and my children are going through it now, so I am absolutely up to speed with what I say. You may disagree if you wish, but repetitive shouts of “rubbish” just show how limited your arguments are.

18
It might be a good idea to say what you mean, and the word ‘rubbish’ was mentioned once, obviously you didn’t do very well at maths in the 1960s and 70s.

The notion that compettion doesn’t exist in our educational system just isn’t the case, there is so much pressure put on children today, and a great deal of literature on the subject, particularly the increased level in child suicides. I notice you didn’t address that part of my argument. Perhaps you can also indicate where league tables were used post 1960s

And further, could you indicate how your sports analogy fits in with the notion of competition in real life, from my memories of sports, we all competed on an even playing field which was rigourously measured.

19
That should have read pre-1960s

J Price: “made no mention of religious education, so I wonder why you raise it.”

ROFL ! Oh dear, I mustn’t mention anything that you haven’t previously mentioned?

Do try not to be so pompous.

Steveb: I agree about the increasing competitive pressures in schools and at uni but Britain seems to be lagging in schooling standards and in the availability of graduate jobs – which likely explains why an increassing percentage of low-skill jobs are being worked by employees who were born abroad and also why a third of recent British graduates are now working in non-graduate jobs: see the refs @8.

We cannot take comfort from those trends. A personal concern is that there is too much emphasis in the MSM on competitive sports and on celebrity culture, which cons impressionable teens into thinkling that getting 5 good GCSEs, including maths and English, isn’t really as important as grown-ups make out. On the stats, it’s clear that the girls have not been as easily conned as the boys. The distressing upward trend in teen suicides may be due to many factors, including binge drinking and bullying on social media.

Talking with friends and taking account of my own siblings, most are working in computer services, even though most don’t have formal qualifications in computer science. The implications of that are interesting. We must take on board that the numbers of additional low-skill jobs in Britain is likely to be small because it will become increasing easy to outsource work to countries where graduates can be employed more cheaply than in Britain at prevailing exchange rates.

21

I’m not really trying to take comfort from the current educational attainment of white working class boys and other social groups, I think it’s a tragedy, however, the impetus of J Price’s argument is the lack of competition in our educational system, and that is completely untrue.

However, there was no golden age of education for the masses prior to the 1960s and 1970s, here is a small list of improvements which are often overlooked-
1972 School leaving age increased to 16 years
Late 1960s and 70s – A massive expansion in higher education and new universities (including the OU)
In 1965 about 6% of the population held a first degree compared to 40% currently.

The problem with unemployment, is, imo, systemic, we need to find different ways of employment, but this is another massive debate. High unemployment levels do cause apathy about education and even worse, but let’s get real about competition within education, it’s a massive pressure for children in the state educational system.

Bob,

I think it is you who are pompous and rude, not I. You were erroneously trying to link my arguments with religious education, as though I was advocating a return to some golden age, which I am not. I was simply pointing out your error.

The suicides have little to do with competitive pressure and more with a malaise in the society as a whole, and I agree with you on this, with celebrity culture and I would add a misplaced sense of entitlement.

I am not convinced that the huge rise in university education is by itself a good thing. While tertiary education is certainly desirable, because universities have been the medium for implementing it rather than other types of institution, the result has been too much academic study for many young people not suited for it.

This has not been helped by the transformation of polytechnics into universities as they have generally opted to favour more academic study at the expense of other types of learning.

Why can we not learn from examples in other countries such as Germany, or France in this respect.

Despite the rudeness of some of the contributors, I have enjoyed this debate, but I have exceeded my daily quota for arguing with left wingers today, and am off to find some right wingers with whom to cross swords.

Good evening to you all.

J Price:

You evidently don’t set much store on evidence-based policy then.

“The suicides have little to do with competitive pressure and more with a malaise in the society as a whole, and I agree with you on this, with celebrity culture and I would add a misplaced sense of entitlement.”

You do you know all that? Any citations, by chance?

“I am not convinced that the huge rise in university education is by itself a good thing. While tertiary education is certainly desirable, because universities have been the medium for implementing it rather than other types of institution, the result has been too much academic study for many young people not suited for it.”

Again, how can you tell? As for the facts:

Britain plummets down graduate league table. Britain has plummeted in an international league table of the most educated nations, according to a major report.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7986244/Britain-plummets-down-graduate-league-table.html

OECD: UK student tuition fees ‘third highest in the world’ The UK is the third most expensive place in the world to go to university, it emerged today, with fears it could top international league tables when fees soar next year. [Telegraph 13 September 2011]

Perhaps the reported difficulties that some students have at uni with essay writing and maths relate not to their lack of ability but rather to their poor schooling. Even so:

The UK’s most expensive private schools are producing pupils who achieve the worst grades at university, according to research.

An eight-year study of graduates’ results by researchers at the University of Warwick suggests that the more parents pay in school fees, the less chance their children have of getting a good degree.

They believe this is due to the fact that A-level results are a product of both potential ability and coaching – the better the coaching, the lower the natural ability a student needs to get the A-level grades necessary to gain a university place.

However, once at university, potential ability becomes more important and the boost provided by the independent schools’ coaching does not continue.
[BBC website 7 December 2002]

23
The transition of polytechnics to universities was a tory policy, it was the ‘leftist’ govenments of the 1960s and 70s who introduced the new universities, and the OU was Wilson’s brainchild, offering those who had not, for any reason, achieved higher education through the existing state system. I agree that the polytechnics were OK as they were.

And that’s really the hidden agenda of your whole argument, somehow the left are considered anti-education when in fact the contrary is the case. Indeed throughout the 1960s and 1970s, most large trade unions sponsored members for higher education.

It might interest you to know that suicide rates in liberal, capitalist societies are generally much higher than prior to liberalization and comparative studies of countries which are not. But there is massive literature about the association between suicides in young people and attainment to achieve academically, It is a false dichotomy to suggest that there are other reasons for suicide because no-one has suggested that academic endeavour is the only reason why young people commit suicide.

Steveb: “And that’s really the hidden agenda of your whole argument, somehow the left are considered anti-education when in fact the contrary is the case. Indeed throughout the 1960s and 1970s, most large trade unions sponsored members for higher education.”

My impression is that Conservatives are ambivalent about higher education. In part, they felt they had to respond to pressures from their grass roots who wanted their siblings so have the chance of higher education. As best I can recall without researching, the percentage of young people going into university increased from c. 12pc at the begining of the 1980s to 18 pc by the end.

The Major government turned all the polys into universities by the stroke of wand so more could have a uni education instead of having to go to one of those polys. We agree, that was a mistake for several reasons. OTOH Conservatives with degrees and ambitions for their siblings don’t want too much competition in the graduate job market. If you’ve been paying £25,000 a year in private school fees so your sibling can go to uni, you won’t be too keen if some upstart goes to the maintained school down the road and gets to uni.

I didn’t think much of Frank Dobson as health minister but to his credit, he did increase the capacity of the medical schools. Around the time New Labour came into office, the number of physicians per head of population in Britain was well down the league table of the affluent European countries: there were almost twice as many physicians per head of population in France as in Britain.

Recap: in the mid 1970s, half Britain’s adult population had no educational qualifications at all; by the mid 1990s, that was down to a quarter. When I went to uni in the late 1950s, less than 5pc of young people went into higher education so the great majority of people of my age are not graduates. Those who have had recourse to computer technical help lines in the last 10 years or so will know from experience that the technical advisers are often based in Indian call centres. From my experience, many are very good and usually a great deal better than technical advisers based in Britain. That is the reality we need to face up to.

I came to the story expecting an explanation of how the youth contract works, and will effect me. Instead I get Nick Clegg and Labour’s guaranteed jobs bashing.

All you really told me is that it costs a lot of money and is an extension of previous schemes- jumping to reasons why it will fail.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract? http://t.co/y2FK8PZF

  2. BoycottWorkfare

    Liberal Conspiracy – Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract? http://t.co/y2FK8PZF

  3. goLookGoRead is:

    Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/VIMMnGub [Very good points, doRead it!]

  4. Joel Carter

    Young person's take on #youthcontract – what's needed is more jobs, not more "employability" schemes http://t.co/KMs0Zh4Z

  5. Tony Taylor

    Young person's take on #youthcontract – what's needed is more jobs, not more "employability" schemes http://t.co/KMs0Zh4Z

  6. Foxy52

    Liberal Conspiracy – Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract? http://t.co/y2FK8PZF

  7. liane gomersall

    Before we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract he should learn some respect | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/dc8h5eiD

  8. BevR

    Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract? http://t.co/D2dowyhz #saveournhs #GPs #wrb #braveheart #democracybroken

  9. andrew

    Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg's … – Liberal Conspiracy: contribution by Izzy Koksal. In early Apri… http://t.co/U4h5UvOT

  10. shreen

    Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg’s Youth Contract? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/JdK9M8aW via @libcon

  11. David Wilkinson

    When Nick Clegg launches a youth contract. lololololk http://t.co/HDkFhMpl Young people give not a single collective shit about LibDem lies.

  12. Owain Fitz-Gibbon

    When Nick Clegg launches a youth contract. lololololk http://t.co/HDkFhMpl Young people give not a single collective shit about LibDem lies.

  13. David Davies

    Most young people stopped listening to Nick Clegg years ago ~ http://t.co/gYlYPg10 #youthcontract

  14. Izzy Koksal

    @boycottworkfare I tried to argue here that Labour's job guarantee is definitely #workfare & rubbish! http://t.co/wny7mPNW

  15. BoycottWorkfare

    @boycottworkfare I tried to argue here that Labour's job guarantee is definitely #workfare & rubbish! http://t.co/wny7mPNW

  16. spencer bungard

    @boycottworkfare I tried to argue here that Labour's job guarantee is definitely #workfare & rubbish! http://t.co/wny7mPNW

  17. Gods & Monsters

    @boycottworkfare I tried to argue here that Labour's job guarantee is definitely #workfare & rubbish! http://t.co/wny7mPNW

  18. Anarcho Penguin

    Why should we pay attention to Nick Clegg's … – Liberal Conspiracy: contribution by Izzy Koksal. In early Apri… http://t.co/U4h5UvOT

  19. Anarcho Penguin

    youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/34lMC4wq

  20. BoycottWorkfare

    youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/34lMC4wq

  21. liverpool_poets

    RT @WolvoPingu: youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/RtvG2ttN

  22. Brummie Protestor

    youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/34lMC4wq

  23. Ceehaitch

    youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/34lMC4wq

  24. Simon Campbell

    youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/34lMC4wq

  25. Shard Aerliss

    youth contract starts on Monday – and here's why it's bullshit! http://t.co/34lMC4wq

  26. Anarcho Penguin

    youth contract starts tomorrow – and here's why we should all ignore nick clegg….& shut him down… http://t.co/34lMC4wq via @libcon

  27. Anarcho Penguin

    why youth contract just contracts us to more unpaid forced labour with good old #workfare http://t.co/34lMC4wq via @libcon

  28. erich frommnomnom

    http://t.co/zkNHXC8b wages in this country are getting more depressed than i am ffs

  29. kevin leonard

    @tlittleford Making up your mind how to vote? remember what the libdems do http://t.co/U2oFtLvM http://t.co/8rNkbFjL http://t.co/zF8mZWoi





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.