Some insight into why our competitive edge will always be blunt

A couple of weeks ago now, I was in the company of a number of senior people from one of of our major national developers.  We were all at attending a conference and  they were representing the sponsor of that evening’s conference dinner.

it was fast approaching midnight in the bar and the mood was jocular and relaxed with plentry of banter between politicians and developers present, as one might expect.  The conversation turned to the skills shortage and in particular the shortage of bricklayers in their industry.  In another life one of the politicians had been a builder, so was quick to agree with the developers’ complaints about the national apprenticeship scheme used to train brickies.

I won’t bore you with the details of their complaint, but suffice to say, that anything involving the principles of good bricklaying, was totally pointless when it came to training bricklayers, in their collective opinions.  As far as those in the know were concerned, it should only take a couple of months at the most to ‘knock out’ a capable bricky.

On the face of it, many people would sympathise with any employer who objected to paying for staff to be trained to a depth they believed would never be used ‘in anger’ so to speak, which of course is why these developers were complaining about apprenticeships for bricklayers.

However, if the belief that the absolute minimum will do when it comes to skills training, is common across all industries that make or build things in this country, we will always lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to increasing national productivity and therefore competitiveness.

The Germans have a far greater respect for non-academic skills than there has ever been in this country.  A qualified engineer in Germany is given the title Herr Doctor to acknowledge their skill and training for example.  Of course I’m not suggesting that all our young Waynes, Jacks, Jills and Johns should now be trained to the level of Herr Doctor Bricky.

However, if you give a young person a good grounding in their chosen career, then they are more likely to aspire to go further than where they started when they first started work.  There are plenty of 30+, or even 40+ tradesmen and women out there doing exactly what they were doing when they were 20, but could now be doing so much more, had they had the right training at the start of their careers.

Teaching somebody more than just how to lay one brick after another in a straight line, until somebody tells you to stop and go back to the beginning and start again, should be welcomed as an investment in our country’s future, not resented as an annoying delay in building your bottom line at the end of the financial year.

Short-termism infects every area of government and private industry in this country – at least government has the partial excuse of the election cycle for this.  This continues to put us on the back foot when it comes to competing with the competition globally.

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Oh you poor dears, all those annoying noisy people risking their lives, training to defend your lovey comfortable way of life

Village that saw off zip wire ride now takes on the noisy SAS

Residents of a village claim helicopters bringing SAS troops to an activity centre are ruining their peace, in the wake of successfully fighting off plans for a zip wire they feared would attract screaming thrill-seekers.
Plans for a new zip wire at the National Diving and Activity Centre, which already houses one of the longest in the country, were withdrawn after locals in Tidenham, Glocs, complained about the “woo-hooing” from the existing attraction. They have now picked a fight with the military, saying Chinook helicopters that bring soldiers from an nearby SAS base are ruining the enjoyment of their gardens.
Gethyn Davies, a local councillor, said the sound of the 100ft-long, twin rotor choppers coming and going was too much for residents in the Wye Valley village, where properties can sell for around £1 million.
Noise from the Chinooks, which can carry up 55 troops at a time, is compounded by smaller helicopters bringing members of the Rifles regiment from Beachley barracks at Sedbury, he said.
He urged councillors to visit the site on days when the SAS troops arrive to train at the activity centre, which is regularly used by the 999 emergency services and search and rescue groups.
He said: “I live in Tutshill and sometimes when the Chinooks are flying up the River Wye they are so close to my home I can look in and see the pilot.
“These Chinooks are massive and if you are in the garden having a BBQ or a glass of wine the noise and vibrations from them can be terrific.”
Supporters say the diving centre on the A48 between Lydney and Chepstow provides jobs, attracts visitors from all over the country and helps people raise money for charity.
The Diving Centre has refused to comment on the row over the zip wire.