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The long and winding road

Getting a job and getting on remain the fundamentals of advice about making the transition to adult life. Young people know it, too. Governments of all hue have made repeated attempts to ensure a smoother path into training and work. The latest research on youth transitions (page three) shows that careers advice systems and post-16 training programmes could be improved - and we all know that. Similarly, employers, who are often quick to blame education for its failings, clearly do not do enough to train their own employees.

It is equally apparent that many young people only appreciate their options after they leave school. Almost one in five experiences either "chaotic" or "uneven" routes into work and long periods of difficulties.

The most vulnerable will certainly be the virtual non-readers in primary, who continue to struggle with the secondary curriculum, and who end up with few, if any, Standard grades of worth. Improvements in basic skills among the most disadvantaged and more relevant vocational education are two tenets of the Scottish Executive's agenda. It is difficult to argue with that.

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