Fairy tales, it is argued, all consist of a combination of just 31 sequential elements; between the 'once upon a time' and the 'happily ever after', nothing ever takes place when it shouldn't. In his speech to the Conservative Party Conference yesterday, David Cameron gave the impression that he thinks life works in much the same way, telling under-25s to: "Go to school. Go to college. Do an apprenticeship. Get a job."
Unless action is taken now, the reality of the UK skills shortage is here is stay. If the government is serious about long-term economic recovery, filling the ever-widening talent gap must be a priority. The alternative is to leave huge numbers of skilled roles unfilled. That will lead to reduced investment, lower GDP growth, lower future job creation and condemn thousands of people to long-term unemployment.
Following a survey we have just done, we found that a staggering 98 per cent of job applicants are reducing their chances of success significantly through poor spelling, grammar or presentation on their CVs. These errors have lead to a number of alarming disclosures, such as being "A director with a strong breath", or, perhaps fresh from watching Sweeney Todd, "Baker, working on ovens and customers".
In Newham, the borough I was born and raised in, over 3,000 young people are unemployed. Across Britain, one million young people are unemployed. We have been called the lost generation, the scarred generation, the hopeless generation. We are not 'generation y', we are generation 'y is it so hard to get a job?'
They are meant to give young people a taste of work, but traineeship are fast becoming a necessary, if poorly rewarded, precondition to launching their careers. Work placements are often abused as a form of cheap labour, with youngsters being given no training and little or no pay and sometimes being given simple, menial tasks like photocopying and making tea that do not make use of their skills and education. The European Parliament has now called for an end to this exploitation.