Schools are producing an "army of the unemployable" as tens of thousands of teenagers quit education at 16 with no qualifications, head teachers said yesterday.
It's a problem I'm sure we are well aware of in Thanet and with house prices rising across the country and a growing shortage of cheap, rented accomodation in the big cities, the opportunities for young people to "get on their bikes" and find work at the unskilled end of the market, which hasn't been taken is much reduced.
According to a study from the National Association of Head Teachers, (NAHT) tens of thousands of children disappear from school rolls every year. Last year, 15,000 pupils in their final year went missing and more than 70,000 did not show up for GCSEs.
In deprived areas such as Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Birmingham, the number of children passing GCSEs has actually fallen in recent years.
Government guidance, criticised at the same conference, rather than addressing the near catastrophic teenage statistics, the Elephant in the living room, is instead looking elsewhere at a another looming problem and schools with large numbers of white pupils have been told that they may be taken over or closed if they fail to promote race relations and links between different religious groups.
Jim Knight, the schools minister, said yesterday the rules would be enforced by Ofsted, which has the power to sack the governing body or recommend closure if schools fail to comply.
Either way, whether its education or integration or both together, government is looking at a social time-bomb and no party of any colour can claim to hold the answers in an economy that simply can't afford a lost generation if it is to compete with the growing Asian "Tiger" economies.
One example for you. IBM is rumoured to be cutting 100,000 jobs, from Europe and the United States this year and will transfer these to a much cheaper Asia. The writing is on the wall and simply creating more public sector jobs in Europe will accelerate the inevitable economic train wreck. The new French President, Sarkozy, understands this and I wonder if Gordon Brown does too?