Shephard offers exploitation training

GILLIAN SHEPHARD, the Education and Employment Secretary, last week told local authority leaders in Brighton that she was about to extend a new form of “vocational” qualification for pupils aged 14 to 16.

As part of the General National Vocational Qualification (GNVQ), schools will organise so-called “work experience”.

Shephard unconvincingly explained: “If we can avoid demotivation and do something useful for employers at the same time”, then why not?

The idea that alienated working class children could be ‘motivated’ by being farmed off to companies and then forced to do extremely boring and unskilled work is a sick joke. Then again, the idea that employers would want to take on bored, troublesome, absolutely demotivated youngsters - is also a bit of a joke. Of course, that will not stop some particularly unscrupulous bosses from ‘going for gold’ and grasping the opportunity to super-exploit youth.

In reply to the fierce criticism of her proposals, which many have denounced as a cheap labour scheme for the bosses, Shephard has responded with the logical defence that the “vocational” work experience will not be paid - therefore, how can it be  cheap labour!

In reality, ‘vocational’ education refers to semi-skilled or unskilled work and means training young workers to be unemployed or grossly exploited.

Meanwhile, children of middle class families will continue to study for their ‘non-vocational’ A-Levels and degrees, in preparation for the better paid, more prestigious occupations.

While the rule of profit reigns, there will never be a genuinely human, all-encompassing educational system. Education will continue to be distorted to fit the needs of the bosses, regardless of whatever scheme or experiment happens to be the current fashion.

Eddie Ford