The Private Sector Shows How it’s Done

The emerging scandal of Edinburgh schools built under a PPP contract shines a light on the workings of the private sector. For years we have been told about the inefficiency of the public sector and how the private sector can get things done. It was far better to have things like schools and hospitals built and managed by businesses rather than local authorities.

Now with 7000 pupils put out of schools for an ‘indefinite period’ we can see just how business works. The schools are fine until it gets really windy then all bets are off. The wall collapse at Oxgangs primary school not only opened the school to the elements but opened business practice to full public view.

Businesses are all about making money, as much as possible. If that means cutting corners and putting children’s education and future prospects at risk, well that’s a small price to pay, especially as it’s not the businesses that pay it.

I wonder if the contracts allow the local authority, the ones left with the mess to clear up, to sue the businesses involved. Who is going to pay for the remedial work required? Who is going to pay the costs of providing alternative arrangements for the seven thousand pupils displaced?

If it comes back to bite the business involved then I suppose they can always go bankrupt and leave the mess to someone else – the public sector.

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Too Clever By Half?

A graduate

Is this guy too scary?

I see the politicians are promoting the idea of more people going to university to make them employable. See the BBC article here.

I wonder if this is really the case? Labour are arguing for ‘Technical Degrees’ that are not academic but focus on skills. This is to raise the status of technicians I imagine. I have two reservations about this.

First, I have found examples of the difficulty of having a degree recognised as worthwhile. My daughter with her first class M.A. and M.Lit with distinction was advised by the ‘consultant’ at the Jobcentre to remove any mention of a degree from her CV if she wanted to get a job. I assumed this was an isolated thing ’till yesterday.

A friend has just completed a Ph.D in his spare time. He is currently employed by B.T. but is about to be made redundant as the work he does is being sent to India. He was told to revise his CV and did so. On submitting his updated document he was berated by a senior manager for including his university qualifications. He was told that anyone with a degree in their CV would not get an interview in BT. The manager would not give details of his own university education.

It would appear to me that the problem we have is not one of lack of education in the applicants but we have the wrong people in influential positions in our industry, especially big companies. Let’s remember that BT was originally Poast Office Telephones which had the monopoly of telecoms and is now a poor relation in that field. Is it any wonder?

There is a malaise here in government bodies and some employers. They make the excuse of lack of education and training as the cause of unemployment. I think they are looking in the wrong direction. I remember a meeting of physics department heads being addressed by a representative of industry complaining that young people were not being taught the right skills. We asked him what skills he would like to see taught. “Honesty and reliability” was his reply. Not exactly skills and not something we often find demonstrated by governments and employers either if recent revelations are to be believed.

My second reservation is the idea that there are no suitable technical qualifications for the non-academic. There have always been good college courses and national qualifications. The problem is that industry is not giving the recognition these courses deserve. Changing the name to a degree will make no difference. Blaming the youngsters, the schools, colleges and universities is dishonest and serves no purpose other than to pass the buck. Government and employers need to shake up their ideas and put the right people in place to get the economy moving, with more jobs.

Are you too clever or are you afraid some young gun with a degree will take your job?