Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

"I couldn't do what you do for a living." I have lost count of the times I have said this to people. It has sometimes been said to me. Thank goodness we are all different and all have diverse gifts.
I feel this when I see good teachers in action. I have no patience, but they display endless fortitude in educating the next generation. I have felt it in the past when handing over a sick child to a doctor, whose calm professionalism saves the day. How many times have I rejoiced at the skills of the mechanic, the plumber, the electrician or the vet over the years who come into our world to do things we cannot do, mend things we have broken and generally rescued us. I recall how in 1987 when we were refurbishing our last house in Plympton St. Maurice I thought I would save a few pounds in helping with the painting. After half an hour, the decorator took one look at the wall, my face and clothes and then forcibly removed the brush from me. "Have a shower, put your suit on and go and do the thing I could never do," he said, "let me do the thing you obviously cannot." I fled with relief.
It is important to recognise the value of all abilities and encourage people to do what they are good at. Too many young people have been funnelled towards university whether it suits them or not. The new funding system will cause some youngsters to consider instead whether more vocational education might be appropriate. I strongly support the new government's decision to create over 75,000 new apprenticeship places to open up again the route to more vocational training.
As of last summer there were over 1 million young people in the UK not in education, employment or training. This is truly shocking. Many employers have confirmed that the reason why so many Eastern Europeans are working in our leisure industry is because too many British youngsters are not prepared to work. Our welfare changes should start to tackle this, especially as the economy improves.
If we are to avoid a new lost generation we have to be much better at identifying the activities that young people are good at, encouraging them to develop those skills. We must celebrate the differences that help make our society work. How boring would it be if we were all the same?

posted by Gary @ 16:40