Vocational careers are for idiots

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Who on earth would want to work in construction or home improvement. Getting your hands dirty, unblocking bogs, fitting kitchens. It’s a mugs game… the only people who should consider Apprenticeships are those who aren’t smart enough to go to university… right? It’s a career for other people’s kids, not ours!

Well, if this week is anything to go by, you couldn’t be further from the truth!

Not only does a career in home improvement provide a great income, especially in these days of skills shortages and subsequent licences to print money on the basis of ‘supply and demand’, but there could be a significant pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for those with business acumen, grit and determination to succeed.

Charlie Mullins (pictured) and owner of Pimlico Plumbers in South London has reportedly sold his empire for a whopping £125m+ this week to an American consortium after 40 years building the business from a second hand van and box of tools, to a highly respected brand that employs hundreds.

Yet, there still remains a stigma about vocational learning and an overwhelming urge to push our kids into university… Yes, we all want success for our kids, but 4 years in uni and thousands of pounds of debt shouldn’t be seen as an automatic first choice by default – especially when relatively newly qualified installers can demand more reward that junior doctors these days (rightly or wrongly)!

This country needs to wake up and smell the coffee.

Vocational learning and a fit-for-purpose Apprenticeship can lead to an amazing, rewarding career that includes creativity, business development and the chance to be your own boss with control over your own destiny. You’d be nuts not to consider it – or consider it for your children.

There remains a misconception that Apprenticeships are about cheap labour with kids that didn’t make the academic grade, but employers who play their cards right can perhaps create a low cost, low risk legacy solution for their own business, much like Charlie and his business has.

A recent BiKBBI survey highlighted the scale of the challenge, but signalled an ageing workforce with no legacy plans in place… well hello… Apprenticeships could provide installers with an exit strategy, a retirement plan and perhaps even a future sale that will provide the same riches as those heading towards a deserving Mr Mullins.

As for Charlie, I doff my hat in absolute admiration for his contribution to industry, his professional business, his support of Apprenticeships and the successful sale of his empire. Here’s a man that absolutely smashed it as far as I’m concerned.

Congratulations to Charlie for building the business from nothing and his son Scott Mullins who will take the business forward under new ownership.

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