Further to Mr John Smith's article (22 November, page 36) about the state of training in the industry and the comments of subsequent correspondents, I am moved to respond.
Mr Smith is so right in just about everything he states, with the exception of his assertion that students previously only capable of Higher National Certificates are now passing degrees. Many of today's undergraduates would have struggled to gain an Ordinary National Certificate some years ago!

My experience spans 25 years in further and higher education. It has involved teaching, lecturing and examining at all levels from GCSE craft to final-year professional exams and degrees. I left it all behind three years ago, totally disillusioned with the decline in standards and expectations.

To cater for students' limitations, some university exams are made up of multiple-choice answers to the simplest of questions, and coursework is slavishly copied from textbooks.

Professional institutions welcome the so-called academically qualified with full exemption from their external exams. To survive, the institutions have no choice but to do this, as well as merging with relatively minor organisations and providing full corporate membership for lesser qualified technicians. It's all just to boost numbers. The commercial reality of stack 'em high and sell 'em cheap has, sadly, infiltrated our profession.

How grateful I am to have the credibility of a full five-year indentured apprenticeship, instead of the present quick-fix training programme. I'm also grateful to have graduated when only 5% of the populous passed through university. At least my degree was worth having, unlike those of the 40% (and rising) that now qualify. Unfortunately it is this current cohort of poorly qualified operatives (note, not craftspeople), and the new graduates that our industry will depend on to teach future generations.

Just where is it all going?