Pride in our apprentices
EARLIER THIS month, I met a kilt-maker. By hand, this woman has, over her 40-year career, made tens of thousands of kilts. In countless of hours of incredibly precise sewing, she has turned yards of fabric into that most iconic of Scottish garments, pleat by pleat.
Her level of skills is unquestionable. She did, after all, start off as an apprentice. And her example epitomises apprenticeships at their best.
They equip someone with key skills, and set them on the path to a successful career in a hands-on way, while they get a salary. And they carry a reputation of excellence. But we know that elsewhere in the world, being an apprentice comes with a status that many here can sadly only dream of.
This week, Tim Campbell, Lord Sugar’s first TV Apprentice, tells us why apprenticeships are so essential (see pages 56-57). But his is a unique story. Too rarely is an apprenticeship a thing of such pride for a participant. That needs to change. And maybe role models like him can help. Maybe they can help us to see apprenticeships as the unique stepping stones they are, instead of just numbers en route to a government target.