Home Business News Charlie’s riposte to the university hype

Charlie’s riposte to the university hype

17th Aug 23 10:39 am

Today thousands of A-level pupils across the country will discover if they have achieved the grades required to for their chosen university courses.

But many are now fearing for the future after education bosses decided to cut back on the number of top grades to make up for giving away A* like candy for the last two years.

I get that when you’re 18 and have worked really hard for something, to suddenly have it ripped away by a bunch of policy numpties is stressful. But don’t panic sometimes there is opportunity where you only saw failure.

There are great jobs, lives and careers outside of the path to becoming a graduate. The problem is a-level students are a product of a system that has conditioned them to label all other options as failure. They are not.

Their teachers are themselves products of the university system, that’s a given. The only difference between teachers and pupils being that back in their day universities weren’t the state-sanctioned cash machines they have become.

Why would you as a teacher blindly shepherd your young changes into the jaws of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he’ll bend on putting them into debt for ten (years) to life? Answer: ignorance and lack of imagination.

There is one more villain in this education swindle, worthy of a complain to the advertising standards board, based on the sale of a false dream of prosperity. And that dastardly figure is Tony Blair, the man whose education policy urged 50% of everyone to go to university.

And when there weren’t enough places to go around why did he do? Told people to put up signs declaring all sorts of dodgy places to be universities.

That’s the brief case against the belief that what Plato called ‘the good life’ only comes to those who are prepared to rack up a huge debt for a dubious qualification.

The other side of the coin is the one that made my fortune and was the building block for what became Pimlico Plumbers, the company that supported hundreds of skilled workers who, just like me became apprentices, and went on to have great careers, without spending a day at university.

Training under a qualified professional (more recently with book training a day a week at a local college) is a time honoured tradition that predates the oldest universities by millennia.

I left school at 15, and before my 19th birthday I was a fully qualified plumber ready to start my own business and take on the business world with my van and bag of tools.

At the time I didn’t realise all the possibilities, but I knew I’d never be out of work, and the money was good.

As an apprentice the money was modest to start with, but if you think about it getting paid to learn your trade  sure beats paying for a degree in English or history, that won’t guarantee you a job at the end.

I’m not saying all degrees are a waste of time. We do need doctors and scientists, the last few years definitely taught us that. Even a few lawyers are needed, not too many mind!

But if we’re going to get anywhere near the target of building 300,000 new houses by the middle of the decade, we need skilled trades in training, and we need them now.

More than ever before an apprenticeship is a guarantee of a job for life, and it comes free without a £50k student debt hanging around your neck.

So if you think there’s no other option than university for a good life, think again. There are huge opportunities out there for those brave enough to ignore the hype and think for themselves.

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