Welfare to Work plans have been published by the Tories. One question they answer is, "How long should someone languish on Job Seekers" Allowance before you offer a different kind of help?" Their answer is "Two years." Most readers in the further education and skills sector would agree that any length of time spent off work is often accompanied by a profound reduction in workplace efficiency and diminished self-confidence on return to work. It is possible, therefore, that there may be something in this idea. The envisaged national network of Welfare to Work providers and community placements could be set up relatively easily. Many providers in the sector already have the personnel, resources and skills to meet the challenge and would be keen to get involved.
David Cameron said: "Those who can work should; those who can"t should be supported." I am sure a well designed and funded Welfare to Work initiative would see significant reductions in the numbers of those dependent on benefits of various kinds, for example, Incapacity Benefit, where the numbers are creeping towards three million.
At the same time John Denham has been pushing a third of England's young people to "Be the First To Go!" i.e. into HE in their family. Why on earth would they want to? Just how many lightweight X Studies and Y Studies graduates do we need in a country without plumbers and electricians?
Some of the best news to come in the office recently has been the success of the national promotion of Going to Work by those excellent ambassadors for industry the winners of the National Training Awards. Winners have visited their former secondary schools passing on the good news that Going to Work doesn"t damage your health. The opportunity for young people to meet the very best trainees from industry has done much to raise awareness and has proved inspirational for those tentatively considering entering the world of work but under pressure to remain in the academic world.
Generally applicable excellent advice to young people is this:
"Work hard at school, leave school as soon as you are able, get a job with quality vocational training, live happily ever after."
Lawrence Miles, Chief Officer, IVA"