There is a shortage of a number of skills linked to the wider construction industry in this country. Charlie Mullins argues that Euan Blair is actually making it worse.

Yesterday an interview with Euan Blair, son of former UK PM Tony Blair caught my eye, primarily because it mentioned apprenticeships and the fact that Blair junior is, it was claimed, reversing the ‘university at all costs’ policy of his father💬.

The devil of course is in the detail, and in this case Euan is less reversing the sins of the father, but more, in true Blair fashion, re-branding them.

His company, White Hat, is diverting potential graduates, away from universities, and directly into tech, law, media, and other professions, where the companies themselves do the training. Yes, he is calling the process an ‘apprenticeship’, but this misses the point (while most likely grabbing the levy funding) of what people like me are trying to achieve when we argue for more apprenticeships and less graduates.

We have a problem in this country and that is a shortage of a number of skills linked to the wider construction industry, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and bricklayers etc, which, it has been established over centuries, are best taught on the job, over a number of years, by one artisan to his or her apprentice.

Maybe our vocationally trained world should be flattered that after years of being considered second class and less intelligent, that our self-anointed betters have decided to muscle in on our game? But I’m not, I’m angry because they are subverting language and diverting funds, for their own selfish motives.

So, when Helen Rumbelow of The Times writes that Euan backs apprentices rather than graduates, as his father did, she is being either terribly disingenuous or just not getting it.

“Euan Blair wants fewer kids to go to university. Far fewer kids. Not just other people’s kids. Not just those “non-academic” kids. Even your brightest or most middle-class kid, who you have been prepping for a degree pretty much since they were born.” — Helen Rumbelow, The Times.

At least in the days under New Labour universities, and the professional roles they created, were only diverting people. Under New Apprenticeships, the very same types of jobs, formerly staffed through universities, are now ripping off people, and the money put aside to arm them with skills in such short supply in proto-Brexit Britain.

Euan Blair has, no doubt, created a wonderful business opportunity, but be under no illusion, he is not a fellow traveler in the drive to fund and create more apprenticeships. He is part of the problem, and he is actually making it worse.

There is no shortage of lawyers, media types or techies, we do however need skilled trades people to build much needed houses, airports and power stations, so please everyone stop pretending Euan is something he is not for the sake of a great headline!!🔷

Embed from Getty Images

(This piece was originally published on the Pimlico Plumbers blog.)

(Cover: Flickr/Ninian Reid.)