ANOTHER KICK FROM POLITICIANS FOR THE ENGLISH EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM COULD JUST SEE THIS TIME THE APPRENTICESHIPS RISE AGAIN

FINANCIAL ISSUES TURN THE CRAZY TIDE.

I have written before, and no doubt will again, that throughout my lifetime, Education in England has been used as a Political football. Based largely on the politics of envy, the Labour Party set about with gusto to dismantle the existing system of school selection and education during the 1950"s. The sole but hidden reason for this was that it was a vote winner, as the majority of voters produced children never likely to trouble the examiners at high levels. That this is glaringly obvious was hidden in the cause of political ambitions.

Subsequently Conservative Governments compounded the felony, so both parties have to shoulder equal blame. Even so, a failing system was pushed further by the Blair "New Labour" governance at the end of one decade and the start of a new century with the ridiculous aim to see 50% of the nation"s children in University. One wonders just which asylum the perpetrators and originators of such a flawed concept came from.

However, all was not egalitarian, for University fees were introduced by Labour, and now increased to up to £9,000 a year by the current sorry mess of a Coalition currently in power Small wonder then that the Blair dream will never be realised thankfully and almost betraying their parents who voted on principles of envy to support that and the institution of so called Comprehensive Schools, their children, today's parents and their children are starting to look sideways at the value of a so called University Education. I say , "so called" because now we seem to have a so called "University" in every medium sized town, offering courses of no intrinsic value to students or the country at large.

The politicians hoodwinked the voters and took the children down paths leading nowhere, having destroyed a perfectly reasonable system developed under the 1944 Education Act , which needed only sensitive adjustments as time progressed but not the wholesale surgery inflicted upon it. However, even the most hood winked clear their eyes after a time and today in England, despite more messing about with the examination system in schools, we begin to glean more enlightened people taking a view that may, just may, help return the balance.

THE RETURN OF THE APPRENTICE.

For many, many years England had in place an effective system of apprenticeships. These were usually available to the percentage of school leavers who had no academic aspiration but were keen to develop a special skill which , once completed successfully marked them out as fit to practice and, in most cases provided them with a career or job for their working life. The collapse of the apprenticeship system robbed England of a skilled work force to such an extent that currently if you engage the services of, say a plumber, he or she is more likely to have been born in Poland than England.

Outside of this system but effectively bringing in "apprentices", professions such as Accountancy have recruited direct from school as well as University. My wife has a niece who chose that route rather than the Oxbridge one and has risen significantly up the ladder and eclipses many of those recruited after obtaining a degree.

Now the penny is dropping even with Government Ministers who are urging young school leavers to effectively take up apprenticeships in professions as well as skilled trades. To do this Government is urging the legal , insurance and accountancy professions to throw their doors ever more open to bring in the right calibre of young person. There is also an encouraging emphasis on developing specific skill apprenticeships once more and this holistic approach to post school development is widely welcomed.

In no way will this affect "genuine" Universities but the former Colleges of Further Education and Technical Colleges now masquerading as "Universities" would be more valuable to the country and their students by reverting to more vocational based courses. Equally, does a Primary School teacher need a so called degree in Education, or would they not be better prepared by taking the previous Teacher Training College courses. Their unions will not be happy as they used degree status as a salary bargaining tool, as did the Royal College of Midwives for their members. Consider for a moment if you were a woman about to give birth, who you would want by your side. A midwife with academic knowledge but little practical training or one who has a strong base of practical training and experience with sound but limited academic knowledge. As a mere male I know where my choice would fall.

ANY NEW PLANS TO BROADEN THE MODERN APPRENTICESHIPS TO WIDER HORIZONS ARE TO BE WELCOMED AS THEY WILL AFFORD YOUNG PEOPLE WITH THE IMMEDIATE OPPORTUNITY OF LEARNING WHILST EARNING. AND FIT THEM FOR FURTHER EMPLOYMENT BOTH HERE AND OVERSEAS.

In older days we saw around half a million apprentices in this country in what could be termed craft based industry. Now with broader based professional apprentices, it is time to see that figure rise. Apparently, the figure is still around 500,000 a year but with the intent to further expand the number of "white collar "apprenticeships that figure should hopefully soon rise and steeply too. Companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls Royce already offer strong apprentice schemes as do others in , for example, construction and engineering. 2013 will see more big guns rolling out their own schemes. These include KPMG {accountancy} Jaguar and Land Rover {vehicle production} and in the computer world, IBM ans Microsoft. This is far from a complete list but is representative that leaders in industry and commerce dissatisfied with previous recruitment are recognising that they can produce a more relevant employee themselves, instead of waiting to largely recruit graduates. An apprentice entering at 18 years of age will have a specific head start on graduates recruited at that age or more. There is a danger, as we have seen in the Police Service where to encourage graduates, fast track promotion schemes have left us with top brass who in the words of a Detective friend of mine, "have never seen an angry man"

Am I anti University education? Just the opposite in fact. I applaud the work of many established seats of learning but distrust the more newly created ones that I see as being part of a huge educational con on children over my adulthood in particular. I count myself fortunate to have both been born before the tinkering big time began in the 50"s and left front line teaching before the ludicrous elimination {largely} of the Grammar Schools. Today, I see too many young adults with pictures of their graduation day, having obtained a degree in something obscure or trivial, and who are unemployed 2, 3, 4 years after obtaining the certificate. If that is not a cruel con on the young then I do not know what one is. Hopefully, those now approaching school leaving age will have real opportunities presented to them that will provide meaningful and practical employment and not merely an almost useless piece of paper. Modern Apprenticeships should provide the cornerstone for progress from current fiscal difficulties and can lead the way in ensuring that we develop to the full the talents of our young people who deserve nothing less.

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