Government by the villagers of Sandford.

The BBC tells me that Maths as taught in schools is viewed by many pupils as irrelevant to the real word. I said the same in 1969. Little has changed. Maths nerds continue to argue that the subject is valuable and exciting when taught for its own sake. 6th Form maths maybe. Until then most of us want to be sure we are getting the right change, can buy the right number of floor tiles, can measure twice and cut once and that we don’t get screwed by credit card and payday loan interest rates. And maybe understand surveys…

The City and Guilds sponsored survey also tells us that “today’s young people are ambitious and entrepreneurial, with almost half of the 16- to 18-year-olds questioned saying that they would like to run their own business”. They might have to. Precious few businesses are recruiting and few of them are recruiting young people. There are over a million looking for work right now, with young people with disabilities and learning difficulties getting even less opportunity than ever. When the economy forces everyone from MBA’s downwards to enter the labour market from a lower rung on the ladder some young people can’t reach the soft ground where it is so unsteadily planted.

“Contact with employers was the most highly rated source of information on jobs, with 88% of 16- to 18-year-olds who had visited an employer saying a visit to an employer had been useful”. How the 16 to 18 year olds actually knew how useful their contact had been is hard to gauge when so many havn’t found employment. That “usefulness” is largely untested. Only a quarter of this age group had actually visited a potential employer anyway. When you take away self-employed parents and friends of friends how many are left?

The report says that most young people have done work experience (up to 2 weeks of it at age 15), but “many” found their work placement irrelevant or of poor quality.

Mr Jones of City and Guilds said: “More needs to be done to ensure young people get the advice and experience they deserve.” Wise and urgent words. Sadly this government is driving – incompetently – in the opposite direction.

First Eric Pickles – the incoming Secretary of State for (seemingly the destruction of…) Communities and Local Government cut the Local Management Grant that funded Connexions resulting directly in immediate cuts to service and the loss of qualified, experienced careers advisers. Then John Hayes MP – Minister of State for (evidently the disruption of) Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning (who doesn’t merit his own Wikipedia page) pushed through legislation against all professional advice that moved responsibility for the provision of independent professional face to face careers guidance for young people under 19 from local authorities to schools (that’s the schools who have no budget for its provision and who are keen to fill up their 6th Forms) resulting in the redundancy of the vast majority of properly qualified careers advisers by the 31st March when the contracts under which they were employed ended.

Schools, who have only just been issued with some very leaky guidance, take over this duty in September 2012 with many of the quality assurance, qualification and independence regulations not taking effect until 2013 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, far from getting “the advice and experience they deserve” young people are getting at best dodgy opinions from hard-pressed teachers and other staff and the contractor careers companies are very busy getting into other work. If you are under 19 and out of school the National Careers Service offers you…a website designed for adults and a telephone call centre.

This is government by the villagers of Sandford. The accumulation evidence suggests that this government doesn’t like young people. Make’em pay tuition fees, take away everything from Sure Start to the EMA and get rid of the careers advisers that could have guided them into a place where they actually had a realistic stake in the economy and society.

I look forward with some trepidation to the summer and beyond when we begin to see this lost cohort, this generation unchallenged by face to face professional one-to-one careers guidance, not provided with relevant careers information, self-knowledge or understanding of modern industry hits the shrinking workplace and..clogs it up when they find they have been recruited into a job they don’t like or can’t actually do. Of course, everyone but the Minister will be blamed by the Daily Mail – teachers for teaching the National Curriculum, young people for being…young, exams for being passable by young people who have studied the National Curriculum and probably the Olympics for getting those young people running, jumping and “over”-aspiring.

But we know where the responsibility will really rest, don’t we dear reader…

“I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter.” Blaise Pascal