Story: As the UK struggles to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, many are at long last discovering that what this country defines as "unskilled" work is actually every single job that keeps it going.
Reasonable take: Yeah, it would be good if labour was actually valued so that normal people have more prospects than "work in a call centre", "saddle yourself with 30k of student debt and probably end up in one anyway" or "key worker so undervalued that a second and often third job is required".
Brain rot: Getting a degree is now "irrelevant" and we should "retrain the nation" in order to plug the giant hole in the economy, says son of Tony Blair.
An op-ed in The Times this week graciously dispelled the myth we were fed during the Blair years that higher education would provide egalitarianism within Britain. The university degrees that hang pride of place in the "best room" of working class houses are now limiting Britain, the piece argued, as they are "irrelevant", meaning we should instead focus on "retraining the nation".
To which I say: fine, but for fuck's sake could they not have found anyone other than the son of Tony "Education Education Education" Blair to kick us in the bollocks with a point the public has been making for the last 20 years? It is of surprise to no one that degrees are about as prestigious as one of those certificates you get for completing an escape room within the time limit.
In episode MCCCXLVMMMCDXCIX of "Britain is definitely a meritocracy according to my uncle the Duke of Rutland", Euan Blair argued that furloughed workers should be trained up with new skills. Again, this isn't a bad idea in itself, but it's extremely grating to see it being made by the son of the grand architect of this higher education shit show, who runs an apprenticeship tech start-up with a homepage that reads "Started from the bottom now we're here".
Is it the best we can do? Wheeling out the heirs of establishment figures and giving them a soapbox to say, "Sorry lads, turns out education is devalued now that my dad's political gesture of getting half of children into higher education has come to fruition."
What makes this whole situation even more frustrating is that thousands of working class kids across the UK would probably have never pursued a university degree in the first place if "skills training" in 2000s schools was a robust programme, and not some vague notion of learning how to prepare a salad or read a map.
Unfortunately, this is Britain, so now the son of a man who introduced tuition fees and told us we needed to saddle ourselves with tens of thousands of pounds of debt in order to get ahead in life was all for nothing, and we have to retrain as a fruit machine repair guy because there aren’t enough grunts delivering "what the economy needs". I simply cannot wait to see what this next recession has to offer us, now that the ruling classes have realised the economy has a black hole in it that must be filled with cheap labour.
You've got to hand it to Blair Junior. I suppose his column acts like a case in point that degrees are fucking worthless. Who needs to study "journalism" at "college" when all you need is an establishment dad to get published in a national newspaper?
When your surname doesn’t open a plethora of careers in every highly paid sector in the world, a university degree doesn't feel "irrelevant". Especially when it remains the first and, for many working class people, only real opportunity to compete on the same playing as with the privileged.
I can't even be too mad that the column was another dream-crushing example of the rampant cronyism and nepotism that smothers any chance of vocational equality within the UK. It just reiterates that the only certificate that has ever had any relevance in Britain is the one you are given at the hospital when you are born. We remain the only place I know of in the world where what upper school you attended has more relevance to your job prospects than your university.
Let's not get too disheartened, though. Anyone can rise up Britain's social class ladder! All you have to do is create a billion pound empire through exploitation, or practice until you become a world class talent at cricket, or follow Captain Tom's example of fighting in World War II, living for 100 years and then raising tens of millions pounds for NHS workers because the government is shit. The world is your oyster.