2nd March 2012 at 00:00

Want to train at college? Don't be such a snob

It is one thing for the prime minister to defend the practice of unpaid compulsory work experience for the unemployed. That's one terrible, ill-advised thing. It is quite another for him to compare it favourably with learning in college from experienced, trained teachers. Yet that is what he chose to do last week.

"Put a young person into college for a month's learning, unpaid, and it's hailed as a good thing. Put a young person into a supermarket for a month's learning, unpaid, and it's slammed as slave labour," said David Cameron, who inexplicably chose three years at Brasenose College, Oxford, ahead of a stint at Tesco in Thatcham, near his family home in Berkshire. "Frankly, I am sick of this anti-business snobbery."

It is worth taking time to savour being on the side that is accused of snobbery by the Right Honourable David William Donald Cameron, direct descendant of William IV, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and First Lord of the Treasury, and alumnus of the Bullingdon Club. Not bad considering that FErret literally grew up in a hole in the ground.

But if it's anti-business snobbery we're after, remind FErret which government slashed the value of vocational courses in the GCSE league tables and excluded thousands of them altogether because they were not deemed sufficiently rigorous?

Put a young person on the supermarket fish counter for a month's unpaid work experience and it's a great contribution to tackling youth unemployment. Teach him a course in fish husbandry and it's an outrageous affront to educational standards.

Or in the words of the proverb, give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime. Alternatively, why not teach a man to fish, then take all his fish and eat them yourself, all the while telling him he should be grateful for the educational opportunity to fish on your behalf?

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today