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18 August 2000

School leavers, students, young workers facing an uncertain future

TENS OF thousands of A level students will be waiting to see what the future offers them when they get their results. Many will hope to go to university or get a decent job and like those who have gone before, will have expectations of a rewarding, well-paid job.

Mark Baker

But for this generation there's a much starker reality than faced previous generations. They now face tuition fees and surviving their college years without any maintenance grant.

And, when they have qualified, many will find that their qualifications are rubbished by people like Chris Woodhead, the government-appointed head of Ofsted. Also, they will find that they earn a lot less than they anticipate and will have to work longer and harder to pay off their debt.

The Bristol Evening Post recently reported on two young women employed as "erotic dancers" in a Bristol club where they earn up to 900 a week.

Holly Wiltshire, with eleven GCSEs and four A-levels, faced 1,000-a-year tuition fees for studying science at the University of Bristol.

She says: "The financial provision given to students is scandalous. Although I get some help from my parents it doesn't cover everything when you take my rent and other bills into account."

She only turned to dancing after she reached the bottom of her overdraft. But it's not only students who have to resort to table dancing to avoid poverty.

Becky Templeton was an auxiliary nurse caring for elderly and mentally ill patients in nursing homes. She loved the job but could not live on the 3.85 an hour wages.

She turned to dancing because she "was 3,500 in debt and could see little chance of paying it off on my nurse's salary. Table dancing is a lot less stressful than nursing yet I get paid much more to do it."

These two intelligent young women's talents are wasted in a society where taking their clothes off is more valued than nursing and education. Under a socialist society we could guarantee free education for all and a living wage for all.

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