Lke so many things when I have one ear cocked to the radio in the early morning I heard something which gladdened my heart this morning. The. newscaster mentioning the government’s new policy on social mobility. They were concerned about unpaid internships (short periods of work experience) gained through networking) . but as, The Times acknowledged, ‘Fair work experience could boost social mobility but mentoring could help more‘ Mentoring would be fairer and more effective in giving young people from poorer families a better chance in life. Again, to quote from The Times, ‘Those who find it easiest to secure desirable experience in the workplace are, indeed, invariably those who require it the least. For the children of professional, well-connected parents, horizons are already broad. A week in the offices of, say, a law firm may only serve to point them in the direction of one sort of affluent success rather than another. For a child who knows nobody who works in an office, meanwhile a week in one can change your life. Inevitably, though, such children have little notion of how to secure work experience in a top profession or, very possibly, much real understanding of what one is.
Readers might recall my letter to the Prime Minister concerning mentoring which I initially sent prior to the last election as I thought it would be an excellent boost to the Conservative campaign. I got no reply then, and only the briefest of acknowledgements to my last attempt to promote this idea to the Prime Minister. (See 11 February entry). The Times article acknowledges, quote ‘Mentioning, unlike work experience, is easily targetable at those committees and schools that can benefit the most. It also provides a direct link between underprivileged teenagers and those in a position to grant them the internships that otherwise they might never think to ask for. At present, few professional mentorship programmes exist and those that do are ill documented â€¦â€¦ Still, if there is to be a Big Society answer to a lack of social mobility, it is hard to envisage a better one. I believe the Prime Minister missed a great opportunity. now the idea of mentoring is coming home to roost. I certainly did not expect him personally to read my letter but I would have hoped that one of his aides might have done so and drawn to his attention. ‘Maybe I would have more luck with Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems!
Having written this note I thought I might Google mentoring to see if there was anything current on the subject. I was delighted to come across a web page called Kids. This is an organisation which was set up 40 years ago to assist disabled children, young people and their families to develop personal skills. Precisely what I’ve been banging on about, without success, and something about which the government now appears to be taking some notice.
If any of my readers are interested in finding out more about this organisation they can do so by going on to their website, which they will find under www.kids.org.uk
I was also glad to hear today that the Commons are going to debate the possibility of making St Georges Day ( England’s patron saint’s day) a public holiday. For some reason this year there are two dates, 23 April and 2 May. In any event, if this idea is adopted, it would not come into play during next year-that’s the good news.
The bad news is that Labour Day, the 1 May holiday would be abolished. No bad thing as the very name smacks of the old communist era. As a matter of interest, Scotland has had its patron saint’s day, St Andrew Day as a public holiday since 2006, so again England is lagging behind.