The YP comment (August 14): D-Day as exam season begins

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Today marks D-Day for thousands of students across Yorkshire as they receive their A-level results. For many, there will be relief and excitement at the prospect of taking up a place at their favoured university. For others it will be a case of disappointment and uncertainty over their future plans.

Yet those in the latter camp should not feel too despondent. There are options available to them, such as resits, and a growing recognition that academic study is not the best path for everyone. After years of attempting to bash square pegs into round holes, politicians and education chiefs are waking up to the idea that vocational subjects can offer a viable route into rewarding and often well-paid careers.

The hope is that as the success stories of those who choose this option mount up, more will be encouraged to give it genuine consideration.

Yet there is no escaping the fact that the world today is very different from that of 10 – or even five – years ago. While yesterday’s jobs figures showed the biggest drop in the number of unemployed 16 to 24-year-olds in two decades, there are no guarantees. Even those with three good A-levels and a place at a well-regarded university are likely to face stiff challenges in terms of securing a first job in their chosen field when they graduate.

It means that it has never been so important for young people to identify the career they wish to pursue at an early stage and then work towards it, even if this means taking an internship or unpaid work to gain vital experience.

The absence of familiar certainties also dictates that today’s generation are likely to need to show far greater flexibility in terms of applying their skills and knowledge to different roles. The Yorkshire Post wishes them luck today and on every step of the journey – and hopes to be reporting on their future successes in the years to come.

A rich new scam

THE PLAN to open a new coal drift mine near Wakefield represents the best and worst of energy policy in this country.

The best because the planned New Crofton Co-op Colliery shows that coal is still a viable proposition – and that there are people committed to keeping the last embers of this industry alive. The worst because these plans are being advanced in spite of the Government’s reluctance to acknowledge the importance of coal at a time of global uncertainty – the Middle East is, once again, in crisis, and it would not be inconceivable for Russia’s megalomaniac president Vladimir Putin to hold the world to ransom over the supply of oil and gas.

This is not to say that coal is the panacea as production comes to an end at Kellingley. Far from it. The reality is that its future contribution to Britain’s energy mix is likely to be limited.

Nevertheless, Britain needs to harness a wide range of sources of power – coal included – if the lights are to be kept burning. After all, it is abundantly clear that the wind turbines so favoured by David Cameron when he went through his ‘hug a husky’ political phase when the Tories were going to be green rather than blue.

Yet the commitment and determination being shown by those behind the New Crofton venture should also serve as a wake-up call to Ministers about the need to speed up the implementation of carbon capture at Drax so Yorkshire’s traditional industries, including coal, have the maximum chance of meeting new criteria on the environment while also lessening Britain’s reliance on other countries if the lights are to be kept burning in the future.

No place like home

AT face value, the survey which has found that people in Yorkshire spend the least amount of money on their holidays may seem to reinforce a certain well-worn stereotype. It has been said, after all, that “a Yorkshireman is a Scotsman with all the generosity squeezed out of him”.

Now research has revealed that, at an average of just £310, residents of Yorkshire and Humberside are the lowest summer spenders in Britain. Those from the North East and Wales, by way of contrast, spend well over £1,000 on their holidays.

Two points need to be made. Firstly, this proves that Yorkshire people are financially prudent and will not spend money that they simply do not have.

Secondly, and most importantly, Yorkshire boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery to be found anywhere around the globe.

Why would you need to spend vast sums travelling to far-flung destinations when you have all that on your doorstep?