For over 20 years I have been concerned about various Governments and the Political Establishment drive to push young people into a academic career with the ultimate aim of University so much so nearly 50% of all young people now attend University that is very good but what about the 50% who do not go they are either forgotten or treated as failure. This I find is upsetting and untrue, I went to a Secondary Modern School Westland’s and I have had a successful Sporting career in Judo, Sambo, Weightlifting and Jiu Jitsu but also importantly I have been a successful businessman. I left school at 15 and started an Agricultural Apprenticeship a business I never stopped in but I tried many other types of work and business. Many of my friends did not have a University education but have run very successful businesses and have become millionaires.
The advantage my generation had was that we left school at 15 and many went into apprenticeships that is not happening to today Young Adults have to stay on at School till they are nearly 18 and in my opinion coming out no better educated then when I left at 15 with exam papers . This countries biggest failure by various Governments and Business is practically abandoning the Apprenticeship scheme. The short term idea of employing foreign tradesman who would work cheaper and the fact Companies would not need the expense of training apprenticeship proved very cost effective. Yet they had failed a generation of young people.
Now why have I brought this subject up, well last night at our Judo/Sambo Club a young man came along and asked for my son John Clarke when I asked why? He said that John had taught him Construction at School and got him an apprenticeship, which he just finished and had come out fully qualified and he wanted to thank my son.
Obviously as a Father I felt very proud not just of my son but also of the young man who recognised the input my son had in his life. John first started teaching Construction at Sittingbourne Community College 14 years ago when the College amalgamated with Westland’s he continued with them. Many of his students managed to get apprenticeships with his help, he took many of these young people who were considered academic failures and through the Construction course got them through exams and made them feel worth while not failures. Academia is good and the right path for some Young people but not for all this country needs people who work with their hands it needs people who can do manual work. Life has many paths and just one path is not always the path to success or happiness. No young person should be considered a failure.
Recent news is that the Government is encouraging Apprenticeship, which is good but let us get away from the continual propaganda that the higher percentage going to University is the only way forward.
John has now left Westland’s under mutual agreement for reasons most of you know about, I feel he will be a great loss to the School and the Construction course if it continues for the next few years. Yet John was quite philosophical about the his leave as he is now back on the tools, which he says will help him get back into the reality of the Work place. He says he will return to teaching Construction but with an even bigger understanding of what is required