Degree dilemma

THE difficulties facing the fledgling Government, ahead of next week's Emergency Budget, are highlighted by the latest jobless figures – and the increasing number of Yorkshire university graduates on the dole queue.

George Osborne's priority, and rightly so, will be to reduce the record budget deficit that he has had the misfortune to inherit from Labour. Yet, while much attention has, inevitably, focused on the need to scale back the public sector's excesses, this approach will become self-defeating if those made redundant simply start claiming benefits. It's why far more emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging private sector growth – particularly in those areas over-reliant on State support.

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Until now, the default position has been measures to encourage young people from less prosperous areas to go to university, and how a degree is now regarded as the passport to a successful future. Despite his budgetary difficulties, David Cameron told MPs yesterday that his government will increase the number of university places by a further 10,000.

However, this will not suffice on its own. In some cases, it is just delaying the day of reckoning when people have to find work. And, as the former Tory Cabinet minister John Redwood said this week, the calibre of university graduates seeking work leaves much to be desired when job applicants cannot construct basic sentences.

It is why there needs to be a far greater correlation between the university sector and private businesses to ensure students have the skills to become tomorrow's entrepreneurs.