As was highlighted in the piece, vocational training is not for less able pupils at all – you need a natural skill and determination to succeed as an accomplished carpenter or an electrician, for example. If schools were more inclined to introduce these vocational lessons at GCSE stage, alongside the core subjects, a stronger learning system could be established. By learning practically and getting a little trade experience early on, young adults will surely be thinking more sensibly about a chosen career path.
The result could be a positive one for individual and industry alike. By accepting and supporting a pupil's choice to follow a trade path at a young age, surely the system will be developing a better level of employee later on down the line. And in today's climate of reducing apprenticeship schemes and the bad publicity construction gets from in public at large, that can't be a bad thing.
I started my professional career at the Haymills Joinery in 1985, working as a bench carpenter. Because I was qualified as a carpenter and joiner I was involved in both the manufacturing and the site fixing side of things. With the support and encouragement of my regional director I found myself talking to and advising architects and QSs about practical solutions to problems found on site. I progressed through the organisation and am now a project manager currently working on a multimillion-pound development for a school.
Rob Walsh, project manager, Haymills, via email.