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Alp pining

Letters

As my French TGV train left exactly on time from the Alps towards Paris, in three hours for £23, I opened my copy of NCE to read yet more articles and letters about the skills shortage in the UK.

I reflected on why I, and hundreds of other experienced lecturers, had been retired early from technical colleges as engineering courses closed due to lack of support from the industry.

Why had personnel and training managers in UK construction firms been replaced by cheaper, younger, clerks? Were the old 'milk runs', which used to recruit A level students to be sponsored by the big contractors, still in existence ?

I was returning from lecturing in a French technical Lycee, where the resources included experienced staff, a computer and the latest software at every desk. The students had 35 hours of guided study per week which included workshop practicals.

They were assessed by external exams to a national standard level. They all completed six weeks of work experience per year. They were really well motivated and far more competent than our British equivalents. French students are supported and encouraged by their industry.

The comparison of our weak, under resourced technical education system is very depressing when we are competing in a global economy.

David Wood, 8 Church Avenue, Westham, Pevensey East Sussex, BN24 5LN

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