One of the biggest obstacles to this country succeeding – never mind being able to “punch above its weight” on the global stage – is our education system.
But the problem is far more complex than accusations of dumbing down the curriculum (and supposed lowering of pass rates) or the ineffectiveness of many teachers who put politics before performance in the classroom.
We are not educating – and then training – our young people in a way which will benefit our economy. Instead, many of our matriculants have their heads filled with grandiose ideas of becoming lawyers, or doctors and possibly – although this is a less appealing avenue – engineers.
A good proportion of those dreamers entering university will fail those courses and waste anything from three years upwards of their lives.
These students are not being correctly advised about their futures, nor is the education system streaming them into what used to be unglamorously called “vocational training”.
The reality is that this country needs qualified and capable plumbers, electricians, carpenters and bricklayers more than it needs unemployed – and sometimes unemployable – law or arts graduates. People trained with those “blue collar” skills will not only help fill the very real need which exists for these trades, but they will also be well-equipped to start their own small businesses.
The government has to start taking this type of training much more seriously than it does. And that requires grounding pupils in it while they are at school and, at the same time, projecting such job options as valuable and no less important than the “academic” qualifications.
We, as citizens, also have a role to play. We need these skilled people – they are the ones, not lawyers, who make our lives easier.
Let’s all start appreciating those people who work with their hands.