Yesterday I was interviewed by the Japanese newspaper The Ashai Shimbun. The journalist had found my name online (probably through the blog) and wanted someone to take him through the background to recent decisions around the Connexions service.
I did my best, and hope that The Ashai Shimbun’s readers will find the article interesting. Telling the story of Connexions to someone who had little background bagage about the service made me realise how bizarre what has happened has been. The idea that the government decided that in a moment of high youth unemployment it would rip out the infrastructure that supports young people’s engagement with learning and the labour market is just impossible to understand.
This is not to say that Connexions was perfect or even to argue that replacing it with something better (like, oh I don’t know, a genuinely all-age National Careers Service) wouldn’t have been a good idea. But removing the service and replacing it with nothing makes no sense at all. It is difficult not to feel that this was an entirely expedient decision which was taken simply to save money.However, the outcome of it has been to leave a gap in the career journeys of young people.
I suspect that this gap will have to be filled again eventually, but in the meantime a generation of young people are being left with a bewildering and rapidly changing set of learning and labour market options. As has been shown in recent weeks the work programme is not really succeeding in filling this gap.
Anyway, we lost that one. It is time to move on to build something new. But, as they say, if you want a functioning youth labour market, you wouldn’t want to be starting from here…