Over the past couple of decades, we've seen the UK change almost beyond recognition - economically, industrially, emotionally, and vocationally. But, has the call for those skilled in the art of welding and metal-craft ebbed in any way?
Even with the advent of automated manufacturing, it's safe to say that this country relies on its skilled craftsmen today as much as it did 50, or even 70 years ago, at the end of the Second World War. In the last five decades, the population of the UK has increased by almost 20%, yet recent research has shown that the level of participation in craft based subjects in our country's schools is falling fast, with no evidence of abatement.
As of 2014, participation in craft-based GSCE studies had fallen 25% in just five years. The knock-on effect of this worrying statistic is that numbers enrolling in associated higher education studies, such as engineering degrees, has halved. The fact that craft skills, such as specialist welding, contribute many billions annually to the economy, has brought the British Craft Council to announce that these core industrial subjects should be placed back at the heart of British education. In 2013, the British government recognised this skills shortage, along with its possible implications, and pumped millions into welding education in an attempt to rectify the issue. However, it will take further action to pull this situation back around and avert an industry crisis.
Without specifically targeting the usefulness of some teaching strategies within the British education system, which subjects or agendas have pulled our children away from their vocational studies? The obvious answers may be perched upon the tips of your tongues, but why is it that welding tools have been effectively downed by the younger generation? Is it not still a fact that young people thrive on hobbies, and the thrill of creating something they can hold?
The engineering industry contributes an estimated £280 billion to the UK economy each year [source: Telegraph], and with welding being an essential link in this huge economic chain, steps need to be taken now to avert a future crisis. If things stay as they are, we could be looking at losing much of our valuable industry to foreign investors, as well as forfeiting our long-held status as a great, pioneering engineering nation.