The key line from Education Minister Chris Hipkins in yesterday's trades training announcement is "we want schools better linked to the world of work".

Hear, hear. One of the more astonishing revelations in my life this past handful of years is to have realised just how backward and antiquated education is towards the modern workplace.

As a parent of four kids who have, and are ending their school years and embarking into the workforce, their stories of the lack of knowledge, support, sophistication and flexibility around where to go, what to do, and how to do it, when it comes to their futures, is frightening.


Jacinda Ardern, who was part of yesterday's announcement, did make the very fair observation that parents too have a role in all of this.

The announcement involves 4000 new trade places - 2000 in the Trades Academy Programme, 2000 in the Gateway scheme.

Gateway allows kids still at school to undertake work-based learning. The irony of that is when I was at school we sort of did the same thing, but it was for what we called "the dunces". The people who were perceived to be going nowhere but a factory.

And that archaic view of the world has changed, but not as much as we might have liked or hoped.

There was a brilliant talk given the other day in Australia by a millionaire entrepreneur who said the education system is broken because all it produces is people who go and get a job serving smashed avo. Which is not entirely true, but it's a good line and reflects the lack of nuance in schooling.

Schooling is aimed towards university. University has been the accepted next step in life, to aspire to a proper career. There is a snobbishness about it that, I have not a shred of doubt, has held people back from even considering the trades.

Most of the Labour Government are people who have spent the better part of their lives in the cloistered, environs of higher academia. And I strongly suspect that goes a long way to explaining their many delivery issues. Doing it in the real world, isn't as easy as reading how to do it in a book.

How many have gone to university not for the love or pursuit of it, but because they've never found what they really want or been afraid to say "I like to swing a hammer?"


Engineering has suffered the same fate. A world of ideas and opportunities, but never fully explained and explored at school, as everyone knuckled down looking to pass the archaic rituals of School Certificate, University Entrance, Bursary, NCEA Level 1, 2 or 3, or whatever the current system is called.

Yes, the world needs doctors, lawyers, and physicists, but they need a lot more tradespeople as well.

That spark, the idea, and the encouragement needs to start young - and it needs to be in schools. And it needs to be as current, important, and relevant as any other profession.