Sunday, 23 August 2009

Some skills don't change....

Visiting a very small shipyard last week in Essex with my colleague Prof. Stephen Heppell, we went and saw the local sail maker in her loft space. It is difficult to predict, just from a photograph, exactly what decade we were in - the machinery and skills simply have not changed.

There is a danger that this is a dying skill - especially in very small companies. It is not general knowledge that counts here here, or learnt knowledge about a range of general subjects, but interest, skill, enthusiasm and a capacity to learn. We will probably never offer a vocational qualification in sail making but there will always be a demand for it throughout the 21st century. So how do we encourage people into minority but highly skilled careers such as this? And actually, why can't a student gain a qualification in sail making? There is loads of skill involved and, I suspect, far more knowledge required than a number of other qualifications currently on offer!
Added to that a talented craftsman in this area could probably name their price in the right area!

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