We were brought up to put back something into the community that we earn a living from, so three or four times a year we have a young work experience person from one of the local schools. Most of them want to cuddle the pets but we soon change that! By day two I decided this particular person could have a go at serving the great British public. With some training and me hovering over, the first customer was served but disaster struck when the customer wanted change. Two cat treats at £1.38 each, change from £5.00. My work experience person could not work that out. Next step was to show this youngster how the till works out the change. Personally, I do not use this function as I like to keep my brain active and do the maths in my head. Next customer was fine until it came to working out change, then the same problem. It soon became apparent that the problem was a lack of basic maths skills. OK, we can work round that to a certain degree. They just cannot be left on their own to serve customers. No good if we were paying them but this is work experience, not paid employment. Two days later we had a delivery from our favourite wholesaler so it was a good opportunity to show this young person pricing and shelf stacking. It soon became apparent that reading a basic invoice with printed RRPs was quite taxing, as was finding the appropriate shelf to put the product on. Yes, we got through the week and the youngster was on time, polite, well spoken, willing to work and did not want to go home in a hurry but with less than a year to leaving school they should be able to do the basics in reading, writing and arithmetic. What is the future for youngsters who find reading and writing a challenge? What are their employment prospects? It is really quite worrying that we are sending more and more school leavers to university but at the other end of the scale some of our young people are leaving school unable to read and write.