I teach maths at a sixth-form college and I originally come from Canada, where my father is an industrial mechanic. Like many other tradespeople in the province of Ontario, he is due to retire soon.
To give one example of how Ontario is addressing this issue, the provincial government has nominated Cambrian college (in Sudbury, Ontario) as its preferred training centre for industrial mechanics, industrial electricians and heavy- duty diesel mechanics, and has invested heavily in large training facilities with equipment used in industry.
Upon leaving school at 18 with a high-school diploma, a student can complete a two-year technician diploma in any of these three trades.
They have then completed all of their school-based training and have many more practical skills than a student trying to enter these trades directly from high school.
Once an apprentice has enough hours of work experience (typically 8,000), heshe can then take their provincial exam to become fully licensed.
Once this test has been passed, a further test can be taken to qualify for an inter-provincial red seal, and the tradesperson can work anywhere in the country.
I suggest that someone in the Department for Education and Skills should encourage a similar scheme to operate in the UK. To get some ideas, they could take a look at www.cambrianc.on.ca Daniel Stroeder 2 Ronald Hill Grove Leigh-on-Sea Essex