I don't want my bottom set to join the one million

I now know quite a bit about car bodywork apprenticeships.

There has been a shift in the thinking of my Year 11 bottom set. Suddenly, there is a lot of chatter about sixth form colleges and apprenticeships. The reality that they are leaving at the end of the year has finally dawned.

One student came to my office and asked if I could help him look up car bodywork apprenticeships on the internet. He had come to me because “I knew you would help me out.” It was a nice thing for me to hear but it's also worrying. No-one in the school had volunteered to help him and he couldn't think of anyone better to help than his English teacher. I did my best but I was hopelessly unqualified to offer advice.

His enthusiasm and seriousness surprised me. Put politely, he is not a model student. Yet this was his world and his ambitions. He just needed someone to give him a hand and no-one had done that.

In a society where over a million young people are unemployed, none of my students seem overly concerned. They all reckon that things will work out. Youthful optimism is refreshing but it will cut no ice in this grim recession. I fear for my bottom set. A combination of few qualifications and a complete naivety about the job market leaves them seriously disadvantaged.