So how is this business news? I admit the connection is very slim and tentative. I guess, the business angle would be that some businesses would cheer very loudly any movement towards increasing the number of child labourers. Some businesses, are too greedy. But we all knew that anyway.
The angle I'd like to point at here is that I firmly believe child labour, even the best managed one, and especially for kids 13 to 15 has to much of a potential to dissuade those same kids from getting education that may land them much better jobs than the ones they held at age 14.
At the age 14 you are not going to be a doctor or a lawyer - not to mention a rocket scientist. But, what can easily happen at that age - and I've seen it happen around me too many times - is that the false independence a little bit of salary gives you makes one too independent, too early.
A good thing! you may argue. However, more often than not, this independence leads to shunning higher education. This is mostly because the addiction to independent income means one does more of it than is compatible with serious education. As a consequence, the education suffers - mostly because it doesn't pay the bills.
Please note, I am not talking about those noble individuals who without working cannot afford to get the education they want. For them, child labour, and work in general is a means to an end.
What I have an issue with is creating an atmosphere in society where children who do not work when young are made to feel somehow inferior. It is true, as also quoted in the article, that not everyone needs higher education. But, at ages 13 to 15, it is also true that pretty much nobody actually knows if they want, or should get one in the first place.
Finally, parents can and should do their bit to help their kids along - not just financially but by helping them choose the right path into adulthood. Part of that task is helping them decide how much education they want, or can get. Part of it is, of course, also making sure they realise that work is important - and a serious matter.
But, if there is an added pressure from the society - or even government, as the article seems to imply - then this easily skews the odds for both parents and children, making it more difficult if you happen not to agree with the "norm". The obvious fear is that business has much more influence than anybody else on government and media - and thus on public "opinion".
To any business that tells me that they can hire an adult for the same amount - and for the same job - as a child, I have this to say: You lie! A child of 14 does not have nearly the same drain on the business. It will move on quickly so no investment in continuous training will be needed. It will also have lower - or even no - expectations of pension and similar benefits. Just admit it, child labour is cheap, and if you are only after your bottom (line) you won't frown on it too much. Except probably if it's your own child...
Finally, about that silly quote from the bottom of the article. I think it's worth quoting here in full:
At home in Suffolk, Peggy Cole looks back on her childhood with few regrets. She feels that even though her childhood was hard - she had to work to support her family because her father was ill - in many ways she had more freedom than today's children.I'd love for someone to explain to me how this has anything to do with anything else in the piece? Someone? Anyone? No? I didn't think so either...
"I've got five grandchildren. The two eldest have been to university and one of the girls is now a solicitor. I'm very proud of what they can do. But they could never skin a rabbit and a lot of people wouldn't know how to make a cake, even. If I go tomorrow, I've had a wonderful life, and they can't take that away."