Don’t get me wrong, prime-time shows which promote business can only be a good thing. However, this programme in particular gives totally the wrong impression about the world of business.In the real world, The Apprentice is to employment what the X Factor is to securing a record contract. The end result may be the same but the “journey” (as they like to say on these shows) is pure fiction. The argument thrown back at me is that this is just entertainment. But, if there are thousands of young people out there who really believe singing Lady GaGa in front of Simon Cowell will set them on an instant ride to fame and fortune, the same must be true for many who think selling fish in Camden market for his Lordship is the best route to a six-figure salary? We need young people to understand that the route to success is skill and hard work. That’s what leads to sharp suits and decent salaries. I was surprised when I heard Karren Brady (Lord Sugar’s new “assistant”) praising plumbing courses as a brilliant alternative to university education and a great route into employment – she should join me on the BBC’s Young Plumber of the Year show I am working on rather than joining Lord Sugar in the boardroom. We need to start giving our young people the message that skilled trades are a great 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 what the Young Plumber programme is all about and I hope it will also send a positive message into living rooms across the country that will inspire other young people to pick up the tools. What we need are more shows that put REAL apprentices on our screens rather than a bunch of jumped-up sales execs running around London trying to impress a Lord.
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