Corporate Workfare Arrives In British Classrooms

Red Pepper explains the United Kingdom’s new “studio schools,” under which teenagers spend half their day performing menial jobs for corporate sponsors for little or no pay, with the (accurate) purpose being to prepare them for the real world:

Launched quietly in 2010, studio schools allow private businesses to run state education for 14 to 19-year-olds with learning ‘on the job’ and not in the classroom.

Almost any business can set up a studio school by paying a voluntary subscription of just £8,000 to the government. In return, the government builds and maintains a school, but the power to run the school remains firmly in the hands of private sponsors. National Express, GlaxoSmithKline, Sony, Ikea, Disney, Michelin, Virgin Media and Hilton Hotels are just some of the corporate players who have bought into the scheme.

Predictably, these sponsor firms only pay the minimum wage – and that’s only for their over-16 students. Under-16s must work at least four hours a week for local sponsors unpaid. It is perhaps ironic that a system that is supposed to teach children what it is like to work in the real world does not pay them to do a job. Moreover, the introduction of cheap child labour into the workplace is likely to drive down wages for adult workers doing similar jobs.

Studio schools raise a wider question concerning education: what is it for? Employers have already told university graduates that they no longer require so many workers with degrees. Now they are suggesting that pupils as young as 14 would be better off working for them for free than going to school. With studio schools, education is increasingly becoming indistinguishable from preparation for limited-horizon work. Their rise represents another step in the creeping corporate takeover of our public services.

10 Comments on "Corporate Workfare Arrives In British Classrooms"

  1. Jin The Ninja | Dec 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

    holy oliver twist batman.

    • Liam_McGonagle | Dec 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

      You’re never too young to learn how to pad out a timecard.

      • Anarchy Pony | Dec 11, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

        “Please sir, may I have some more wages?”
        “MORE!? The market has decided you only deserve 12 cents a day!”

  2. Not much to say other than WOW!

    Thanks for posting this by the way.

  3. somewhere some young anarchist is slowly teaching his fellow workers/classmates what a union is all about…

  4. InfvoCuernos | Dec 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm |

    Coming to a highschool near you-Foxcom. I wonder if it will be a good thing when they start manufacturing more things in the US again if this is how its going to go?

    • A good part of the inshoring trend is drastically lowered wages for manufacturing employees. How much economic boost we get from factory workers who can’t afford to buy what they make is an interesting and open question.

  5. BuzzCoastin | Dec 11, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

    jobs went away in the 1960’s
    no one has a real job any more
    most are doing menial tasks
    or pushing papers through a paper mill (electronically today)
    or like I did, pimpin’ for the man

    unfortunately, school is of absolutely no help in the post-information age
    except to the elites who can’t find a machine to the job

  6. Don’t like the phrase “corporate workfare”. This is CHILD LABOR and there’s a reason why there are laws against it. This is setting up for much greater abuse, and should be stopped immediately. Period.

  7. It’s like we learned nothing from the 1800’s. God people are stupid to even remotely let this shit get started again.

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