We’re all big fans of the TV show The Apprentice in our house.
Did you see it last week when the hapless contestants were tasked with creating a male beauty product and one team came up with an exfoliator that stained skin green?
We watch it because they’re basically all idiots and that makes great television.
The name of the programme gives a misleading impression of what it means to be an apprentice though. It’s far more than impressing the likes of Sir Alan Sugar in the boardroom and coming out with empty phrases like, “I want this so much” and, “I can take your business to another level, Sir Alan.”
Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2023 has just come to an end. Every year Scotland celebrates the work of companies and the apprentices they take on to learn skills while doing the job, usually combining it with some study. It’s a practical way to train a workforce and means the young trainees can earn a salary straight out of school. It’s a win/win situation and a boost for the economy.
It’s a great way forward for bright young men and woman who want to crack on with their careers and either can’t afford or simply don’t want to go on to further education.
University is not for everyone, and many graduates leave without being qualified to do an actual job, apart from specific occupations like doctors, engineers or lawyers of course. I left university with a degree in English Literature, which didn’t really equip me for anything other than having a lot to say in a book group. And even then, the thought of that felt too much like hard work.
I’ve often thought we need to look again at what children study in school. Why not update the curriculum for a new generation and equip them with skills they might use when they go out into the big, bad world?
I was intrigued to see a school in a rural community in the south of England offering a qualification in farming to their students. It’s a brilliant idea and the kids were clearly loving the idea. Many of them who I saw being interviewed said they’d been inspired to emulate Jeremy Clarkson having watched his illuminating TV series about life on his farm.
I’m not convinced the world really needs another Jeremy Clarkson, but he is a great example of how you can make a huge success of your life without going to university and hardly having a qualification to your name. He’s always proudly boasting about how badly he did at school and how he now owns flash cars and numerous houses.
Unions: Apprenticeships are crucial to offer route out of low-paying jobs
Adventurer and writer Ben Fogle has suggested that schools need to focus less on traditional subjects and forget about turning our children into another tick-boxing commodity. Instead, he believes we should teach them that learning is fun and that they should be curious about others and curious to understand. He wants children to know more about nature and give them a sense of adventure and possibility.
There have been complaints that the Scottish curriculum has narrowed in the last decade, so maybe now’s the time to introduce some new subjects into the system. But let’s think about getting pupils to study something practical, subjects that will help them out later in life when they’re living on their own and trying to get a mortgage.
Teach them about pensions, for goodness’ sake. I wish I had learnt about the importance of planning for retirement. If I had, my long-term financial plan wouldn’t rely on me winning the lottery. Note to self: Start playing the lottery.
Or they could introduce a course in citizenship. If I get on one more bus and find a teenager with their feet on the seat, I’ll scream. And they can turn down their music when they’re at it. And don’t ride bikes on pavements.
I realise I sound like a grumpy old woman. That’s because I am. Maybe there is a course I can go on to rectify that?
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