So, a shadow cabinet member went on the Today programme this morning, to explain its policy on apprenticeships for young ‘people’ “Not in Education Employment or Training”. Or, in the words of the Today programme presenter, “part of a far bigger ambition to provide more marriageable working class men, more stable families, and less crime”.
Wow. The Conservative party, led by Eton educated David Cameron, has a plan for making working class men more “marriageable”. Patronising & classist much?
From the transcript lovingly written up by reader Hannah, who suggests we all write in to the BBC and complain, the presenter actually manages to be more offensive than the shadow innovation, universities and skills secretary, David Willetts, who is putting forward the policy. However, at no point did Willetts attempt to correct Evan Davies.
All Evan Davies’ questions assume that the apprenticeships are aimed solely at men, and that it’s perfectly OK to have government policy on how to marry working class men to working class women (and only working class women?) And he displayed no concern about young women who are not in education, training or employment – presumably they will simply get married to the young men who have taken up the apprenticeships, settle down, have a stable family and thus fulfill their duty to prevent crime. And the debate, of course, featured three men – none of them from the demographic that the Tories want to social engineer.
But let’s not let Willetts off – he also makes the assumption that these apprenticeships are basically aimed at young men – not young women. And, of course, it’s all very heteronormative – nothing in there about encouraging these young people to settle down in stable civil partnerships, eh?
Well you, you, what you do is you give them the freedom to shape the
apprenticeships they need and Evan, the young men want to do these, last year there were 50,000 applications for 9,000 apprenticeship places in the construction industry, we’re going to ge-tear down the barriers that stop the construction industry taking on more apprenticeships and that’s good for the construction industry, and that’s good for the country.
So do we assume that apprenticeships will only be open to men? Or just that the language used to promote them will subtly (or not so subtly) exclude women? How about this for a novel idea, David – apprenticeships for everyone, actively promoted for all genders, and stop trying to legislate people’s love lives.