30 December 2010

Living longer and funding education

BBC Breakfast are running two stories this morning, as separate and distinct stories, which appear to be linked. I emailed in a comment. Unfortunately as my comment ran rather long I doubt they will read it out, I'm reproducing it here.

You appear not to have noticed but two of the stories you're running this morning seem to be linked. The stories are that more people are going to live to 100 and the comparison between students of the baby boomer generation who had free university education and the current (and last) generation who have had to pay.

SAGA say that older people need to work to supplement their income, this of course removes jobs that younger people could have taken up. Your interviewee on free education enjoyed by baby boomers says that had 40% of her generation gone to university they may have had to pay for their education. If older people are to work longer then something must be done with the younger people who cannot then find work. Investing in education (vocational as well as academic) is an excellent way to keep them off the job market longer, maybe change from a working life of 15 to 65 to one of 25 to 75. This would also address the skills shortage we have had in this country since the 1980s and reduce our reliance on skilled migrant workers, or maybe balance the migrants coming in with our own citizens migrating overseas where their particular skills are needed.

We seem to have a choice. Either subsidise young people to stay in education longer and off the job market or subsidise older people to leave the job market and enjoy 30+ years of retirement. I suspect the former would be better for the long term economy. Alternatively we all move to part-time/job-share working and all take a hit over our entire careers.

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