The proposed policy of changing compulsory schooling from 16 to 18 clearly shows the governments vision in how to they intend take a stronghold grip on economy and its problems. Governments aims have always been to raise attainment for all children and “to close the gap between the richest and the poorest” (Lemieux, 2006: ). From the late 1970s to 1991 the disposable income of the top quintile group increased form 26 to 42 percent, whilst the bottom quintile group fell from 10 to 7 percent (www.statistics.gov.uk), and this has increased further in current times. A possible reason for this increased inequality is the shifts in industry from non-skilled workers to skilled workers over the past 20 years, and educational systems failures to meet these changes. Raising education therefore would help create the supply of labour that industries demand, and help increase economic growth and GDP; both vital requirements in order for the country to come out of the recession, which is an integral part in all government policy. With record levels of unemployment, it is without doubt that this proposed policy intends to target and reduce the unemployment rate, especially amongst young individuals, as more education leads to better job opportunities in the future. Increasing education requirements would therefore theoretically solve the problem of increasing pressure by economists to cut costs and solve the ever-growing dependence of many on welfare.
It is important to first define the human capital theory as it plays an integral part in the following points. Human capital theory is that the more educated and individual, the greater earning potential for that individual as he/she is more productive due to the skills they have attained. Belfield’s definition of human capital is the most commonly accepted as “an individuals embodied skills above their raw ability” (Belfield, 2000: 17). Based on this idea, raising the schooling age to 18 would therefore make young students obtain more skills, becoming skilled and more productive leading to greater job prospects and greater earnings potential. In the long run this would lead to increased consumption, less dependence on welfare due to less unemployment, increase GDP and help boost the economy out of recession.
The proposed policy is necessary because it directly tackles youth unemployment that is crippling the current economy. With recent figures stating that as of September 2010, 2.45 million people are unemployed (www.bbc.co.uk), it is important the government aims to reduce this to help boost the economy, and improve national morale. By increasing the schooling age, the government hopes to solve the increasing number of young people unemployed. NEET is a government term that shows the number of people not in education, employment, or training. Recent figures show that “183,000, 9.2% of young people aged 16-18 in England were NEET at end of 2009” (www.publications.parliament.uk). It is an alarming figure as it is one of the worst in the OECD countries, and needs to be tackled. This is because being NEET at a young age is associated with negative outcomes in later life, each having a cost not just for the individual but also for the economy as a whole (www.publications.parliament.uk). By implementing the proposed policy, this figure of 9.2% of 16-18 year olds being NEET would be eradicated, and improve their chances of finding employment after leaving school. Greater human capital, revised outlook on goals and better decision-making are the result of more education, and as a result, in the long run, unemployment would fall, and there would be less strain on the welfare system. However, such a law is only effective if it helps meet the needs of the labour market.
Labour market patterns and trends have played an...