Freeing the whole job selection process, not just the free schools

Social mobility between the bottom ranks of society and the elite is now becoming as low as it ever has been from before the industrial revolution, and probably from most periods of history before that. The reason is that the new crop of extremely prosperous industrialists in the 1800s established private fee-paying schools so that their children — that is, boys — could learn the graces of the aristocracy as the upstarts joined with them in wealth and power and influence in every important sector of the economy.

In recent years, however, successive governments — of both left and right — have realised that specializations are growing and thus that intelligence and skill are premium qualities for the success of nation-states in future years. Besides freeing schools from state control, as Labour began seven years ago, the present Tory government is about to insist that all employers should know what school a job candidate went to before being interviewed.

Some, such as Lord Waldegrave, head of the board of Eton college, have protested, saying it will prejudice employers against candidates from private schools. That’s extremely doubtful for a start — it’s likely to be the other way round if we’re talking of highly-paid jobs or prospects. But in any case, any interviewer worth his salt can decide within seconds from the regional accent of the candidate and the clothes he wears — even from the way he enters the interview room.

Subsequently encouraging the candidate to talk about whatever subject interests him the most will fairly soon establish his level of articulacy and thus a good guide to general intelligence and creativity — if that is really what the interviewer is looking for.

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