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Technical College

The minimum school leaving age in those days was 15. I managed to escape before that magic age and enrolled at Technical College to do a 1 year Construction Technicians course.

I reckon my Dad had a quiet word with my old headmaster, although he never admitted it and, when the school broke up for the summer holidays, I left for good, even though I was a few days short of 15 years old. Dad was running his own small construction company at the time and had promised that I would go to college and be supported through the College courses by working for the company. So the plan was to do the 1 year course full time, then follow that with a 3 year course on day release which meant working four and a half days for the family company and 1 day at Tech. The four and a half days were because the standard week included Saturday mornings.

It seems a lot now but we worked from 8am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 1pm Saturday. 52.5 hrs a week as standard.

College was a whole different world. We were treated like adults for the first time and the lectures and practical courses actually taught us things that related to the real world. From wearing a school uniform and learning about "the pen of my Aunt" in French or the conjugation of Latin verbs, to choosing our own clothes and learning about brickwork, site surveys, setting out and plumbing was a magical transformation. We were of course all there because we wanted to learn, rather than being compelled, which made all the difference and we grew up fast.

There were girls there so we learned how to talk to them, and even dated some of them, which for a 15 year old from an all boys school was mind blowing. We got motor bikes as soon as we were old enough, then graduated to cars. But above all we learned how to make a living doing something that was important and worthwhile.

I think today the authorities have put far too much emphasis on gaining a place at University and have somehow missed the importance of learning a skill or trade. There are always people who will benefit from academia and the degree courses which only a University will offer.

But there are also millions of people like me who would be much better off, learning a practical skill, and if those people were given the encouragement and direction they need, I reckon we would have far less unemployment.

More later.

The Project Master