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Learn from experience

The recent report on workplace education makes my blood boil. In short, it suggests that the level of education of workers new to the workplace is poor and employers should redress the failings of the current school system.

My daughter is doing her work experience with me in January, not that I was her automatic choice. However, health and safety legislation makes having children under 16 on site a no-no for many companies.

Has this been noticed by local or national government? No. But why would it when its own knowledge of the workplace is both out of date and incomplete?

We need to resurrect an old system where education could be a mix of experience and learning – the old HND sandwich courses as were – and consider helping youngsters make career choices with the benefit of expertise instead of the out-of-date information issued by government and the schools.

This would include making it acceptable to remove university as the default choice and may also mean that making money is not frowned upon at a time when careers are under discussion.

I also have to point out that this is the umpteenth report that Gordon Brown has commissioned to go dog-eared in the Treasury. There is a definite pattern here – recognising a problem, then commissioning a report on it, praising it but then quietly kicking it into the long grass.

Indeed, many of the authors of these reports are not known for their successes. Maybe that is a quality that Brown identifies with or actively seeks?

Gordon, if the schools are not working, then invest in them. Do not simply think that the world of commerce will step up to the plate. After all, it is not as if we can get a peerage for telling it like it is. To get a peerage, you either need to apply for a consumer credit licence or produce a report for the Treasury’s shelves.

I despair but I do believe that Gordon may well only have 15 minutes of fame left. Whoever eventually gets into Government, we must insist that those who can produce a sensible and feasible report and those that can’t keep quiet.

As to his most recent about turn on alternatively secured pensions and, even worse, on pension term assurance, just what is the point of listening to anything he has to say? His method seems to be, let’s find out what happens when a particular route is promoted, then close it down.

I do wonder if Tony Blair is letting Gordon dig himself a hole for himself. This one step forward, two steps back approach to strategy will erode trust.

One closing thought for the FSA to mull over is if there was a rule that stated that chief executives must step down when five years or less off the retirement age. If this had happened earlier, we would have had a bigger payout at the various demutualisations. Leaving CEOs in place to the end is madness and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

Merry Christmas to all my not politically correct readers. Thanks for your comments and encouragement. I wish you the best of health and remind you to volunteer for pro bono when we start again in 2007. What better way to place value on the process?

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