Some seventeen year old in America built an app that aggregates news feeds (I typed that, I should know what it means). He's now sold it for a cool $30 million. He didn't do it alone; in fact while he built the thing he's had a lot of financial support from the likes of Stephen Fry and Rupert Murdoch.
Now I don't want to denigrate this kid's work. Fair play to him for building something and selling it, even if it's for a ridiculous sum of money - especially for a kid his age. But he's had a lot of breaks other kids won't. His dad works for Morgan Stanley and his mother appears to be an international lawyer. Life isn't giving him lemons, it's giving him Sturgeon's eggs.
What does this tell me?
It tells me that I live in a world that has changed around me. A world that doesn't offer the same opportunities to people that find themselves out of work, never mind to disadvantaged people. Ironically while there are some systems in place for people with issues that are conventionally accepted, there are plenty that slip through the cracks. Surely everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to build apps that might make millions? But I wouldn't even know where to begin. I don't own anything that uses an app in the pure sense: I don't have an iPhone or a tablet or a laptop netbook pad device. Despite being continually told how easy these things are to acquire on the dole - they must be as everyone unemployed seems to own them - I cannot afford such things.
This is a world that passes me by. Here in my little hamlet there is no support of any kind. The Work Programme certainly isn't going to furnish me with smart technology and, though I haven't asked, I can't imagine they will fund me learning to build apps. Meanwhile kids these days are in schools built around this technology on a curriculum that is designed for a world that embraces these things. They do homework on laptops, they talk to each other through smartphones, they will probably one day have their entire school reduced to an app. All of this stuff is taken for granted, which is as it should be - technology is ever changing and should be assimilated as quickly as
possible. However for people on the dole access to it - to the opportunities it affords - is a luxury. This is backward and self defeated thinking. We already have a huge problem with unemployment among the youth and they are the people at the cutting edge of this technology for reasons mentioned above: they own it, they understand it best, and they are raised on it in school. People on the dole having to deal with the sheer incompetence and poverty of the Work Programme are instead sent to musty old churches, or stuffed in failing prefab office spaces (the sort we went to school in, you know where there are roof tiles falling down all the time and a constant threat of asbestos), where the only technology is Universal Jobmatch. We are not given an opportunity to learn new tools and skills that, even at best, would put us on an even footing with the youth. So what chance do we have when even they have no chance?