Better to be Bob the Builder than a graduate with debts

Tes Editorial

Parents in Scotland are becoming less thirled to the university option for their children, according to a new survey.

Research carried out for the Federation of Master Builders found that a career in building is becoming more popular, as it gains a more positive image. The findings were based on a sample of 400 parents across the UK, but only 50 in Scotland.

More than half of those questioned said they would prefer that their children opt for job-related training when they leave school rather than academic study, which would saddle them with debt.

And the vast majority of those questioned in Scotland, 94 per cent, said they would like to see the Government focus spending on vocational courses rather than on more academic subjects.

"Many dream of working for themselves - vocational training provides school-leavers with a marketable skill, which can act as a stepping stone for the more entrepreneurial to set up or run their own business," Grahame Barn, director of FMB Scotland, said.

Building also appears to be moving ahead of other vocations. When asked about their children's careers, parents would rather their children choose the building profession over farming, retailing, catering - and would far prefer them entering the building profession than becoming estate agents.

More than 55 per cent of parents of boys would be as happy for their sons to go into building as into computer programming. Both these careers were favoured by a far higher number of parents than farming, teaching or the police.

And a quarter of parents of girls would be happy for their daughters to go into a building career - more popular than hairdressing, secretarial work, farming, catering or retailing.

More than half of Scottish parents said they were more likely to encourage children to pursue a career in building than they would have been five years ago, indicating that the image has improved.

Mr Barn commented: "School-leavers who are faced with the choice between debt-saddled academic study or an apprenticeship, where you earn while you learn, can see the sense in pursuing a career in building, where they can work on interesting projects and earn good money."

As more and more professions and trades target school-leavers (see page five), the FMB, which represents more than 13,000 employers in Britain, highlighted the case of James Squirrell who started at the bottom and now runs James Allen Construction, which turns over pound;3 million a year.

Mr Squirrell said: "Building is one of the few professions where, if you have gumption and determination, you can start with a broom and end up running the company."

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