Politically Speaking Column in Wakefield Express

It’s back to school and college. Over the summer local students have had all their hard work pay off with fantastic results in GCSEs and A levels. The days and weeks after exam results can be a stressful time, both for young people and their parents. Decisions about college or university places are often determined by one grade here or there. And for those hoping to go to university, competition has been particularly tough this year. Potential students have been hit by the double whammy of cuts to the number of places this year and the tripling of fees next year.

For our 16 year olds, decisions this year are tricky with advice services cut and the Educational Maintenance Allowance, which supported thousands of young people to stay in education in this area, abolished. But for those wondering what to do next there is still advice and support out there. Wakefield College offer a huge range of courses for everyone, not just those who want to do A levels. There are vocational courses and apprenticeships too and you can study full or part time.

But unfortunately regardless of their exam results and qualifications, young people are really up against it. The latest unemployment numbers came out a couple of weeks back and made grim reading. Round here, already 600 youngsters are out of work, up by almost a quarter since this time last year.

A small number of young people got lots of attention in the news this summer by creating chaos in their communities, either in one-off high profile problems like we’ve seen in some parts of the country recently, or by making life hard for their neighbours all year round.

But the vast majority of young people in this area are hard working and well behaved. They tell me they want to get qualifications and go on to a good job. They want decent places to go and things to do after school and at weekends – without having to hang about in the streets and parks.

At the start of adult life our young people deserve the best possible opportunities. That’s why, while students across the Wakefield district are celebrating their exam results, I’ll be keeping up the pressure on the government to give young people round here a fair deal.

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Posted September 9th, 2011 by Ed

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