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What Has Happened To Apprenticeships?-00-5393
Our economic history had previously been rooted in manufacture since the days of the Industrial Revolution from whence over time the UK became synonymous with excellence in shipbuilding, steam engines and locomotives, mining, aerospace, car and motor cycle manufacture, small arms etc.
When Margaret Thatcher came to power, there began a fundamental shift in the economic base of the country. Our traditional manufacturing base had already begun to face intense competition from overseas.
Coal could be imported from Europe more cheaply than we could mine it and steel could be imported from Japan more cheaply than we could produce it. The shipyards that once built iconic ships like the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth were forced to close as global competition made them increasingly uneconomic.
The demise of our industrial heritage was already in full swing and gradually, our manufacturing base disappeared into the history books as one by one, the various manufacturing sectors became unviable and eventually ceased to exist. Those that managed to survive, such as much loved brands like Rolls Royce Motors and the Mini, were sold off abroad.
To reinvent ourselves, the Thatcher government chose not to retool and rebuild our industries because in their view it would have taken huge investment and time that we didn't have to become viable in an ever more competitive manufacturing marketplace. Instead, they decided that Financial Services would be the basis of a â€˜new' economy. There was and continues to be heated debate about the rights and wrongs of this fundamental change in economic direction but whether you are or were a supporter or not is somewhat academic; it has already happened!
As the transition to the new economy got underway, it soon became fashionable to develop careers in accounting, computing, software development, programming and other areas that supported the financial services sector. Parents actively encouraged their children into these new â€˜white collar' roles and a new era was born even whilst the old one was still dying.
The demise of our manufacturing industry inevitably resulted in the demise of most of the traditional apprenticeship routes to becoming a tradesman and consequently these days, finding an apprenticeship is as hard as finding an honest politician.
Arguably for tradesmen, these events have not been as catastrophic as one may have first imagined because over the past 10 years or more a new training sector has developed in the UK. Many people who missed the opportunity to become plumbers, electricians, gas fitters, gas installers and gas engineers have now unexpectedly been given the opportunity of a second chance. Younger men who are just starting out for the first time also have more opportunities than ever before to build careers in these trades.
These days, the vast majority of people who enter the trades are those who have not come through an apprenticeship route. They will be one of the thousands who have taken one of the wide range of courses now available to allow them to gain the qualifications they need to become legally qualified as a plumber, electrician, gas engineer or in whatever trade they have chosen.
There is no doubt that some tradesmen who have completed years of apprenticeship are resentful of this new breed of market entrants and their resentment is understandable. However the thousands of tradesmen who are part of the new breed will inevitably have an entirely different view. They have been given an opportunity to change their lives and perhaps build a dream. On balance that cannot be a bad thing; one of the cornerstones of modern society is â€˜equal opportunity for all'.
Why should you not be able to become an electrician just because you thought you wanted to do something else when you were 17?
About the Author:
For anyone interested in http://www.tradequalified.co.uk/ or http://www.tradequalified.co.uk/, it is worth considering gaining qualifications through Trade Qualified. Trade Qualified is a City and Guilds Approved Centre, offering training for those wishing to become an electrician or a plumber.
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