Opinion

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The University of Hard Knocks

2 Mins

According to the latest numbers, there are 2.6 per cent more graduate jobs this year. Yes, we should be happy the numbers are rising – but a 2.6 per cent increase isn’t exactly a “recovery”, is it? There are now 83 applicants for every job, up from 69 last year.

Clearly the legacy of shovelling everyone into any old university just to get them a degree is coming home to roost.

Universities have to be fit for purpose, churning out graduates than can contribute to the economy. Which makes me think; it’s actually a good argument to set up a plumbing, electrical and building services “university”.

For years, parents have been ringing me up desperate to get their kids into a trade, and many of them have offered to fund the whole thing, including wages if only we would take them on. I’ve never taken them up (I’m not sure why really – in my mind, that’s just not how things are supposed to be). But the more I think about it, it really does seem there’s gap in the education market for a university of plumbing, perhaps even the Pimlico Institute of Plumbing Excellence (PIPE)!

Of course, this could be replicated across all sorts of sectors and industries wherever the skills are needed. There will be those that argue that this is what colleges already do with apprentices. What I am talking about is a training organisation staffed by qualified tradesmen and women that not only covers the classroom learning you get in colleges, but trainees also work on actual jobs in real homes and businesses to give the necessary “on-the-job” training. 

Basically, instead of filling the pockets of universities to do a degree in the cultural significance of The Only Way is Essex, students pay to learn a trade and become a fully-fledged plumber. 

In today’s climate this sounds like a perfectly reasonable market-driven reaction to our skills crisis and the education sector’s failure to train people to do the jobs society desperately needs.

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