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From The Socialist newspaper, 19 January 2010


No business in our education

I am a student who enrolled on the 'Stepping Stones Employability Skills' course at Leeds City College, Park Lane Campus. When I first chose this course I thought it would be a quick and easy way to get my GCSEs done so I'd be ready for going on to my A-Levels. The course included English, maths, IT and an additional subject choice of photography, art, science or general studies.

After enrolling I was informed that I would also be taking a new course that had started at the college; a course so 'new, fantastic and shiny' that they were only teaching it in certain colleges and universities around the UK.

This course is called 'Deloitte Employability Skills' and is run by a company called Deloitte & Touche. They are one of the four largest, global accounting firms along with Price Waterhouse Coopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG.

The Deloitte website's list of colleges and universities hasn't been updated since 30 July 2009 but it lists educational institutions across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Horrible joke

I knew from the first five minutes that this class was a horrible joke. The tutor started off by trying to give a motivational talk about how this course was going to help everyone to get a job. Apparently we would be boosted to the top of the list, or if we were already employed that we would be pushed to the top of the list for promotions and pay rises.

We were promised that this course was going to be confidence-building and that it would teach us team building, what to wear to work, job interviews, and generally what is expected by your employers.

I asked him how he could promise all of this and what about the trade unions? He hadn't mentioned anything about our rights as workers. Needless to say I got nowhere with my questions, they were brushed away and ignored.

Worst practice

He carried on the lesson by making us do a role-play in the style of reactionary TV presenter 'Jeremy Kyle', implying/assuming that we all must know who Jeremy Kyle is. Most of the first few weeks of this class were spent in role-playing games; pretending to be CEOs in charge of our other classmates and role-playing how to tell workers that their pay has been cut and frozen.

We were also made to sign a class contract that was set out like, as the tutor put it "a McDonald's employee of the month chart". This chart was supposed to represent what Deloitte see in our futures. It had the whole class's names on it, so if we did anything wrong in the class, a little black dot was put next to our name and at the end of each month the best-behaved 'employee of the month' was supposed to get a prize.

I was in this class for around two months and no one got a prize, people were constantly being told off.

Youth unemployment is already over a million. It will take more than this to provide my generation with a decent future.

EJ Helliwell Leeds Youth Fight for Jobs

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