It might bolster national morale for politicians to pretend that we can, by reading books, regain the position we fail to hold by making goods, but as the burgeoning unemployment and under-employment of graduates and YTS trainees amply testify, the bleak fact is that Britain is, in economic terms, already too clever by a third, if not by half.
Of course, it is arguable that it is better to be overqualified than underqualified. What is not quite so easily understood is that dangerous complacency in high places which leads Mr Blunkett, as it does Mrs Shephard, to imagine that having more and more youngsters sitting in libraries, lecture rooms and laboratories is a precondition for economic revival.
In last year's 3i survey of the UK's most successful independent wealth creators, two-thirds had never seen the inside of a university, whilst upwards of a quarter had, perish the thought, managed to benefit the country with an education that finished at GCSE. It would be a pity if Mr Blunkett should ignore the contribution to the country's economic well-being of those who are not all that interested in passing exams.
Dr JAMES MURPHY
Department of Educational Research
University of LancasterReuse content