Sunday, July 29

It was ever thus

Saturdays are when builders get around to totting up the hours and issuing invoices; Sundays are when I settle accounts. Why do kids waste their time pursuing a third-rate degree at one of our lesser universities when they could be learning to drive a white van? Most likely because, like Gudgeon, with a saw in hand we’d be positively dangerous. I have zero aptitude for laying bricks or painting walls. I can do it, but you wouldn’t employ me. Much better to go to Uni and settle for a non-job, pushing paperwork from one side of the desk to the other. It’s not as if most of us are ever likely to amount to anything that would oblige us to pay off our student loans. Everyone thinks Blair’s push to expand higher education was to raise the country’s skill base, when it was really about unemployment figures. Of course the government was at it long before Bliar. Writing to novelist Barbara Pym in 1967, Philip Larkin bemoaned the ‘suicidal expansion’ of Hull University: “Universities must now be changed to fit the kind of people we take in: exams made easier, places made like a factory with plenty of shop-floor agitation and real-life strikes.”

Conversely… “Another British manager rises quietly to the top of the automotive industry: Mike Manley is to succeed the charismatic Italian Sergio Marchionne as head of the Fiat Chrysler group ... having studied engineering at South Bank Poly. He’s at the high table of car-making alongside Linda Jackson, the chief executive of Citro├źn, who began her working life as an accounts clerk at Jaguar. Another Brit who would have been with them if he had not died young (in a fall from a hotel window in 2014) was Karl Slym, head of Tata Motors and an alumnus of Derby technical college. Let’s remember that in the current generation we have provided a gritty training ground for world-class executives.”

No comments: