It has been my pleasure to meet a number of UKIP’s young and upcoming members over the last two years.
Youth issues and our education policy are areas that UKIP doesn’t get much media attention for, despite being very common sense and forward thinking. With the announcement of his candidacy for president of the NUS (National Union of Students), local UKIP member and activist Jack Duffin is putting these policies in the spotlight to those who stand to see their futures improved for the better, as reported by the Trending Central website (Whose article I reproduce below)
Original link – http://www.trendingcentral.com/im-running-nus-president/
I was driven into politics at a young age when Tony Blair destroyed the three things I hold dearest: “education, education, education”. At first school politics, then into party politics. In 1997 education was fundamentally changed in the UK, when the pledge was made that 50 percent of all 18 year olds must go to university. Overnight this made all other routes into the world of work appear second rate. Quality apprenticeships diminished, vocational training plummeted, and those who were not academic were labelled a failure.
Tuition fees soon followed, as sending 2.5m people a year to university is not a realistic or practical target. Does the jobs market require this many university graduates? Are there the right qualifications at university to fill the demands of the country? Is academia the be all and end all? The answer to all three is resoundingly, “no”. We have hundreds of thousands of university students left with no realistic job prospects after university. Many end up either taking jobs that don’t relate to their degree, or unskilled work they could have done without a degree and the debt that goes with it.
Why are those who went to private school, who never had their potential curtailed in a comprehensive, so well positioned to talk about our education? The top 5 schools now send more kids to Oxbridge than the bottom 2000 put together. Those lucky enough to be born with a silver spoon can afford to buy top quality education and take the jobs. World class education should be available to the brightest students, not just the richest.
Unfortunately society now talks of social mobility as a relic of the past. There were more working class kids at Oxbridge in the 1960’s than there are now. Kids from working class backgrounds who were academically successful used to be able to get the world class education they deserved, that allowed them to get into the top jobs in this country.
David Cameron, in his speech to Conservative Party Conference last week portrayed many young people as failures of society. It is not their fault that they have been left with a failed academic education that leaves many 16 year olds leaving school with either no qualifications, or ones that have no relevance to a job. I am sure he thinks its great that kids have 5 GCSEs and that 98 percent passed this year. But the truth is there are nearly no transferable skills taught to these children. You also have to wonder why the percentage has risen: are people getting smarter, or are the exams getting easier?
We need to make sure that young people who are not academic can access quality vocational education, that will allow them to have the skills and experience to go into the world of work at 16 and 18. This in turn will create good apprenticeships. Firms won’t want to take on young people unless they have the skills base that an apprenticeship can build on. So rather than thrusting the non-academics onto the scrap heap, lets embrace them and allow them to be employable and important people in society.
When discussing running for president of the National Union of Students (NUS) with a leading UKIP official, the advice I was given was, “don’t get your neck broken”. The trouble with NUS is that it is now widely viewed as a left wing bed of socialism rather than promoting the needs of students. Party politics and ideology should be left at the door. It needs to be about achieving the best for students and young people across the country.
I don’t expect to be elected as the president, but a serious achievement would be to get individuals in student politics and the three old parties speaking common sense when it comes to the education of millions of kids in this country. For too long it has just been acceptable for them to rattle off the rhetoric about trying hard but never delivering.
This is the first of my monthly pieces on why I am running for NUS president. I will outline individual parts of my manifesto in future months as I look to provide a voice for the voiceless students, not just at universities, but those in primary schools, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges. You can also look forward to my daily blogs from NUS Conference later this month! Exciting, I know…
Jack Duffin is the Secretary of Young Independence, London and is running for president of the National Union of Students