Useless indentures

I WAS very interested in David Sherlock's article about modern apprenticeships and particularly the comment that only one in three actually completes the shorter period of a modern apprenticeship. As one who completed a long traditional apprenticeship, I'd like to relate my experiences.

During the 1960s, the expression was, "Don't bother with the initially better paid low-skilled labouring jobs, learn a trade and you'll always have something to fall back on".

I duly obtained an industrial apprenticeship and then sweated my way through the years of back-breaking, low-paid effort that this involved. Although there was a certain amount of envy at the much better social life of my better paid unskilled labouring acquaintances with their stylish clothes and motor cars, I always thought that time was on my side.

At the end of my "seven years" the managing director duly signed my indentures and then made me redundant, "as you're no longer cheap labour". Of the 12 apprentices I started out with, only five had finished the full term of indenture.

Despite this setback, I thought I had gained a reasonably secure employment future. In fact, I have never worked in industry.

Nearly 40 years since receiving this document, only once has somebody wished to see it.

I now seriously question the wisdom of not taking a better paid labouring job and having a better social life during my youth. Perhaps several of those who started but didn't complete modern apprenticeships reached this conclusion early in their training?

James C Wells 16 Knockholt Road London SE9

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