When I left school without the A levels that I needed to fulfil my academic dreams I was put on a job creation programme in my local library. I loved the scheme whilst it lasted!
I learned more in those six months than I had learned in a previous lifetime of school. There was something almost magical in handling so many books. Even without reading them, just stamping a book with this book is the property of Gwynedd Council and knowing on which shelf to place it gave me new information about the latitude of human knowledge, experience and insight. It was probably the most influential six months of my life!
But it was still cheap, and useless, labour!
It was a scheme that would never have allowed me to become a librarian or to get even the lowest job in a library. After six months of infatuation with the process I was kicked out because my term had ended, and some other person was inducted to the joys of librarianship in my stead with the same non chance of having a career in the library service.
Given the resignations of the Apprenticeship Tsars I hope that the Westminster Government will look again at the meaning of apprenticeship and give young people the hope of gaining employment as electricians, plumbers, mechanics, librarians etc, rather than doing what Mrs Thatcher did – dangling the smell of such jobs under their noses in the knowledge that those jobs were never going to be available to them!
But I doubt it – getting kids through schemes, in order to keep them off the streets for a few months is easy politics – giving them meaningful apprenticeships that will lead to lifelong skills and employment is a real challenge that the ConDem Government is too frightened to contemplate.