« The poor white problem | Main | School utopianism »

June 19, 2014



Apart from the lack of jobs, most of the problem is lack of employability skills, the motivation, ambition or ability to pursue a career objective or training.

Typically institutionalised training courses cannot offer young people this. Years of experience point to 'near work' experiences with good mentors etc.

Many young people are typically failed by the education system which is mostly academically driven these days, with insubstantial vocational elements for kids that are more likely to succeed at a vocational trade.

So even then, at 17 or 18 - the education system has already failed these kids - so the solution? send them back to school?

Luis Enrique

I think you're a bit strong with some of these. for example, you don't need to believe everybody is trainable, only that some sufficient proportion are and the only way to find out is make everybody try and expect some to fail. Similarly you don't really need to believe you can foresee future demand for workers, merely that basing training on current demand trends is better than nothing. You can also blame unemployment on macro factors and think training is worthwhile, and you can think that education and training is a role usefully performed by the state without being a lacky of capitalism.

Dave Timoney

With the passage of time, many people have become misty-eyed about Thatcher's Enterprise Allowance Scheme, in no small part because of atypical succes stories such as Creation Records and Viz.

Though its macroeconomic impact was negligible (it largely funded sole traders who would have become self-employed anyway), it represented an attitude towards personal responsibility and the role of government largesse that now, after 30 years of managerialism, appears revolutionary: give the kids some cash and let them get on with it.

What's depressing about Labour's plan (and the whole fetishisation of the contributory principle by the IPPR and Blue Labour types) is the lack of both imagination and ambition. They simply don't trust the people they puport to represent.


2. "Jobs that could be done by algorithms, they say, will be done by robots. "

ah yes ... the great promise. But a large number of people will be employed to game the algorithms to gain additional benefit, and a larger number of people will be employed to prevent the algorithms being gamed. Every prediction has been shown to be wrong, and more and more people are employed in computing.


...somehow missed that the list of predictions of how computing would remove the need to do any work is as old as computing itself, and every prediction has proved to be wrong ...


What's the point in working when property prices (which buy you financial freedom) are detached from wages?

People aren't stupid in general. You know who are the mugs? People taking on debt via an average uni and a horrible barret box. Their lives are over. And that is exactly what LibLabCon tells us we should aspire to, so they can farm us for our whole lives.

The only people winning are those who have figured this out and stay on benefits (or low hours per week to qualify for "optimal" benefits) and the rentiers buying up swathes of SE property with leverage.

The UK is finished. It's a certainty.


Ben, two things

1. How come the lives of " people taking on debt...[to buy] a barret box" "are over", while "rentiers buying up SE property with leverage" are winning?

2. Cheer up, ffs.

Dave Timoney

@Dipper, the ICT sector accounts for 3% of the UK workforce. It's still growing, but not as fast as in the past. Growth in the 80s and 90s was driven by hardware. Since 2000, growth has shifted to software as hardware has been commoditised and offshored.

Software employs relatively few people directly due to a) its marginal cost of production being near zero, and b) the tendency towards monopoly (most people use one search engine, not several). Silicon Roundabout really is as small as the name suggests.

Most ICT professionals are actually species of middle management in non-IT firms rather than techies, which means their employment ultimately depends on corporate norms rather than discernible value. The scope for "more and more" jobs is slight, despite government and industry propaganda.

The issue is not a one-for-one substitution of robots for people, but the replacement of entire industries by cheap software (often cobbled together opensource) running on even cheaper hardware. There is no iron law that says new technologies create more new jobs than those they displace.

Edis Bevan

Anyone born after 1 September 1997 will be required to participate in some form of education or training until their 18th birthday (when they become a voting adult). Did Milliband factor this into his policy proposals? Might be worth debating this upcoming change...



Luke - ah yes let's not complain like good little proles...


An obvious problem with this apart from all the correct criticism about macro demand is that the UK has an awful track record in the area of vocational training.

The likelihood is that "New" Labour will out sourse the training of the no hopers to the same feckless greedy private firms who run the "work" or properly no work program, and the training will be useless. When if ever will the UK get an effective training system like that developed by the germans before the first world war?

Ralph Musgrave


Congratulations on your criticism of training. Training is a bit like “investment”: for the wooly minded both are “good”, so more of each must be better.


I'm afraid nothing less than a paradigm shift will do however laughably unlikely that may be. We have the technological knowledge and scientific nous to work out at a more rational system than the ludicrous, wasteful and demeaning Efficient Market Hypothesis crap that is 'efficiently' destroying the planet, trashing lives, creating resource wars and turning large parts of populations into debt slaves while the 1% overlords take the piss out of us all with a giant catheter.

We need to create genuine democracy which is co-operative at base and has a healthy banking system that contributes to sustainable wealth diffusion rather than asset bubbles that syphon wealth up. Anything less than this will do nothing.


Just words from a politician - meaning nothing. I fear we will see a lot of this till May '15. Training does seem to have become captured by pseudo-experts 'take something very simple and make it very hard and then add paperwork'.

There was I think something socially useful about the 'sitting with Nelly' approach. Most young people know for a fact their parents are idiots and it is nice to rub along with different people willing to show you the ropes who speak frankly about their world. Rounded the corners off a bit.

Socialism in One Bedroom

To Ralph Musgrave,

Maybe Raplh isn't aware of this but
ALL people who work receive training in one form or another and then doing the actual work becomes on the job training.

The idea that not everyone is trainable is just so much bullshit. The right wing bang on about human nature but this idea, that not everyone is trainable, really does go against what we are as a species.

The idea that everyone is not trainable could only spring up in a society that, by it's nature, leaves many on the scrapheap and results in huge inequalities. The only way these ridiculously huge inequalities can be justified is to claim that x amount of people are beyond any help.

To challenge the idea that everyone is trainable really is caving in to the ideology that underpins the power of capital.

Points 3 and 4 in the article can't see beyond the power of capital, so does point 2 but it is probably the more fundamental problem.


Blair was mainly targeting the young (e.g. Sure Start). Miliband is targeting the old (school leavers).

I see merit in the former but not the latter. If nothing else, there's likely to be a genuine passion amongst providers to help the very young, whilst vocational training for 18 year olds will just be gamed and be completely rubbish. We all know it.


Why is work considered with such a panacea?

Surely in a century of rapidly developing technology and increased automation, we should be looking at work as a hobby and should be introducing basic income.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad