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Ah, I see what the government and employers up to.

The debate about whether ‘taxpayers’ should fund university rages on. Perhaps with free education, those who went to university would get better paid jobs and pay more tax, therefore paying back for their education. This would rely on graduates starting working life less heavily weighed down by debt to allow them to search for a good first job. Not for school leavers to have to go straight to stacking shelves at Tescos, never able to afford to escape.

What else is our ‘tax’ used for? Wars? Oh, yes, consultants for the MoD (costing £300m of our tax). Were these consultants university educated? Have any MPs paid for their further education?

Someone suggested the bright idea of stripping OAPs of free travel. Not one more person should have to struggle for the right change at the bus stop, especially if the fares are a good percentage of their living costs after they’ve spent a lifetime paying tax.

The reason why our university system is being ruined in this ‘quick, pull-the-drawbridge-up’ way, is that people in power know that we need intelligent, educated people running this country who have the ability to think and get results.

Now that we pay for our education, we get an education. When universities were free, there were constant strikes and sleepovers, you saw two tutors a term, students would bunk lectures and most facilities were massively underfunded, ie had none of the equipment and resources we have today.

Therefore, as well as MPs feeling threatened by the range of skills and level of education people get today, likewise employers are playing same game.

Workfare, the government’s new scheme to force people on benefits into voluntary jobs is designed by fear. Why can’t Tescos pay people they are taking on so they value themselves, grow some confidence and can come off dole and earn a wage for their labours?

When careers advisers ask you ‘where do you want to be in 5 years time?’ They dread the answer, ‘in your chair.’ New school leavers should soon be in those chairs. Current careers advisers are so inadequate if they ask this irrelevant question.

If someone is made to do voluntary work to get benefits, why not let them choose what they want to do? How about a return to Apprenticeships, in which people can learn a trade? This would do the country much more good than letting people rot as they stack shelves – something a monkey or machine could do – just because employers are scared that, with all our new skills, we will learn to do their jobs better than them, if given a chance.

Would you rather use an electrician who had learnt on the job or one who had passed all their ‘W’ or ‘Y’ plan exams (see even I know that) and had never touched a fuse box? OK, maybe one who had spent six months practice arranging spanners on the shelf at the DIY store since finishing their degree? Doesn’t install much confidence does it?

So why are the Government, by forcing universities’ hands, and employers working so hard to keep ‘Neets’ (urch! Horrible new label. Yeuch!) so Neet? (ie a ‘Neet’ is Not in employment or education).

In his Telegraph (20.02.12) comment article, Philip Johnson gives only one point of view, by saying ‘why are people so against working 30 hours for £55 a week? Go on, Philip, don’t let us keep you from showing us how it’s done.

That argument is easy to make from a safe, salaried distance (with a nice buffer against responses). So I’ll give another point of view on this: If young people are given voluntary work as journalists, might they learn to provide more balanced, researched and observed articles than Johnson’s weak and sort-sighted defence of Tesco’s legal source of slave labour?

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