It appears that our First Minister has decided that non-academic 14-year-olds should be removed from mainstream schooling to attend a skills academy to learn a trade, such as plumbing.
The Scottish plumbing industry has worked hard over many years to remove the idea that a career in plumbing is only for those who struggle with basic subjects such as English and maths. In recent years, we have seen our efforts pay off with record numbers of good quality candidates being recruited to the industry.
We are delighted that many of today's entrants leave school with academic results which might previously have sent them in another direction. All new recruits to the industry are required to follow a rigorous training programme, leading to the achievement of the SVQ Level 3 qualification.
Those who understand such matters will know that an individual without basic literacy and numeracy skills is likely to struggle to meet the demands of the training programme leading to this level of qualification.
On the one hand, it is good to see our politicians recognising the fact that, for too long, trades have been seen as a career of last resort.
However, this latest announcement bears all the signs that we have some way to go before we convince our leaders that following a vocational route is an acceptable alternative for young people who work hard throughout their secondary school careers.
Robert D Burgon
Director and secretary
Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers' Federation, Edinburgh