THE Blair government’s obsession with “vocational education” — which is actually just training for the McJobs that the working-class kids who take it will have to get when they leave college — took an entertaining new turn recently when Britain was announced as the host of the 2011 ‘World Skills Games.’
Around 700 young people will compete in the games, attempting to best each other in the fields of landscaping, welding, hairdressing and other “vocational skills and specialist crafts.”
Chris Humphries, the man who led Britain’s bid to secure the games, naively thinks it’s all about improving the perception of vocational and skills-based studies. “For too long,” he says, “the vocational route has been seen as inferior to academic studies, but succeeding in the skills sector takes just as much dedication, determination and hard work.”
Welding, landscaping and hairdressing are worthwhile skills. But if Humphries really believes that these “Games” are about making people understand that a well-rounded education should include skills and craft-focused training as well as academic subjects, he’s kidding himself.
Ex-labour movement bureaucrat and recently appointed Education Secretary Alan Johnson is much more upfront about the real agenda here:
“We now have a unique chance, with the government, business and the education sector working closely together, to...inspire a new generation of youngsters to take up good careers in all sectors of the economy.”
“Inspire a new generation of youngsters to take up good careers in all sectors of the economy”? Blairite jargon for “churn out some workplace-fodder.”
Hosting the event will cost the government £11 million. The apprentice hairdressers the event hopes to “inspire” would have to work for 200,000 weeks to earn that much.