Too young to make the choice

10th November 2006 at 00:00
Self-made Glasgow millionaire Willie Haughey would raise the school-leaving age to 18 for youngsters with no job, training or college place at 16.

Mr Haughey is a member of the Smith Group, the schools-business partnership set up at the First Minister's request to tackle the issue of youngsters not in education, employment or training (NEET). He is also chairman of Scottish Enterprise Glasgow.

The influential businessman has outlined his personal views on preventing youngsters going straight into unemployment on leaving school to Peter Peacock, the Education Minister.

Speaking at an international education conference in Glasgow, Mr Haughey insisted he was not advocating a return to "bootcamps" or sending youngsters off to the army. "I just want them to get an education," he said.

Mr Haughey, the boss of a multi-million pound facilities management company, City Refrigeration, said 16-year-olds currently do whatever they want when they leave school.

"If a kid is 16-years-old and going to become part of the Neet group, he shouldn't be leaving school. He is too young to make that choice," he said.

"I would move the school-leaving age to 18. But if he has got a job, he could leave earlier."

But, potential Neet youngsters should not be made to follow the kind of curriculum that had turned them off education in the first place, he said.

"It should be interesting and vocational."

He criticised the First Minister's plans for new skills academies, arguing that "we should be putting more vocational training into the curriculum".

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