Emphasis on youth skills rather than qualifications the way out of recession?

In the Republic the live register of unemployed hit the highest levels since the late 1990s. One aspect of it is the limited capacity for retraining, or training on the job. Eamon McDwyer, a local Cavan businessman told Slugger on the #RTERoadtrip that rigid enforcement of limits on jobseekers allowance an opportunity was being missed.

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In England, Professor Alison Wolf has been warning for some years of “a complete disintegration of the youth labour market”, as “successive governments obsessed with encouraging students to rack up paper qualifications and hours in the classroom.”

As the FT reports she:

…called for “proper funding of internships for 16- to 18-year-olds”. She said even if they did not lead to formal training “work experience still pays. You can still make a career by being in employment.”

Wolf’s argument is fundamentally that skills have a much higher currency in early career than paper qualifications, and that merely being in employment is huge a motivating factor at that crucial school leaving age. In this she would include the habitual act of getting up and going to a place of employment and putting in a hard days work as a key learned skill.

Fine Gael have promised 20,000 new jobs a year. It’s the right thought, but it’s not yet clear what the means of creating them will be.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty