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Gove review: Practical learning has lost its way

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Gove says that vocational qualifications haven’t been properly valued and that a gap has been left in the country’s skills base as a result. On that point, I totally agree with him.

I see the inadequacies of the current system and what it’s producing every day as I try to run my company, which relies on an ever-shrinking pool of skilled talent across all the traditional trades.

I feel like a broken record but the “good ones” are, quite literally, dying out. The current system doesn’t encourage (or effectively produce) the skilled labour force we require now, let alone in the future.

Tabloid newspapers go on about migrant labour “taking our jobs” – but how can they be “our” jobs if we don’t even bother to train people to do them?

We need to start giving our young people the message that skilled trades are a no-less prestigious way to make a living, and that no society can function with white-collar workers alone. As a society, we need to relearn the value of getting our hands dirty!

That’s why it was good to hear Gove talking about a new generation of technical colleges, set up to train future plumbers, engineers and mechanics. 

So why am I so concerned about the review? Simple, I’m worried it’ll be stacked with people who have no idea or experience of the issues it needs to address. When I read that Gove had put Professor Alison Wolf from King’s College in charge of the review, for example, alarm bells started to ring.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Professor Wolf is perfect for the job of chairman – but she needs a few plumbers, builders and sparks to help sort out education policy rather than stuffing the committee with academics and teachers.

An appeal to Gove: let’s have some people on the committee who know about getting their hands dirty and won’t rush off to A&E when they get a callous on their hand!

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