When we Boomers left school in the 1960s and 1970s admission to tertiary education was not quite as liberal as it is now.
Many Government departments, the military, health boards, the police, banks, newspapers and many large private companies offered school leavers with the right educational qualifications either cadetships or other paid training opportunities.
School leavers had to have a minimum of three years secondary education for some roles but for most the minimum standard was obtaining School Certificate with preference for students with University Entrance qualifications.
Many school leavers with educational qualifications took this route into decent, well-paid careers with many going on to university or polytechnic study later in life to sharpen up their skill sets.
Cadets or students were paid a minimal wage with many employers deducting board and lodging from that wage, not leaving much for the frivolities of life.
Any such trainee was considered in the pecking order of any organisation as of similar importance to a waste paper basket, a necessary evil, useful for something, but otherwise ignored if possible.
The feelings and opinions of such life forms were not of much importance to anyone really. You kept your head down, worked hard and got qualified.
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A weekend or so ago I found myself in Auckland, a place that continues to over-awe and amaze a dyed-in-the-wool provincial old chap like me, a beautiful city.
I was attending a gathering at Takapuna with 40 other old mates from my days as that insignificant form of life known as "police cadet", something of less importance than a police puppy and nowhere near as cuddly or cute.
During 1969 82 boys, mainly white with a small sprinkling of brown, were selected by the police from secondary schools throughout New Zealand for cadetships to start in January 1970.
Our selection was based on the requirement to be "soundly educated", healthy, and at least average at sport, of good moral character and conviction-free.
We all had to be tall for the day, minimum of 5 foot 8 1/2 inches in old money with a 34 inch chest, the makings of bigger blokes.
We were all only 17 or 18 years of age and most had never been away from Mum before.
In the 19 months of training most of us grew upwards and outwards, no thanks to the terrible food provided by the Post Office Accommodation Centre and the Immigration Hostel at Trentham Military Camp, the caterers for police and civilian organisations in the camp.
Upon gathering in Wellington we were issued with old-fashioned navy blue police uniforms, a navy-blue beret and a book on the rules and regulations of the police and the varied ways one could fall foul of them, resulting in dismissal at the drop of a hat.
We were then transported to the Police Training School at Trentham military camp in Upper Hutt and introduced to our accommodation, tin huts built as temporary accommodation for troops in 1914, 56 years prior.
We were crammed three to a cubicle the size of a very small state house bedroom and told to get on with each other. Few knew each other so it was interesting at first.
Communal showering and toileting was a novelty to all except the boarding school boys.
We began 19 months of military-style discipline and drill, intense study in law, police practice and further education subjects taught by civilian teachers at, I am told, 1st year University level, practical station duty working with real police in the greater Wellington district, physical training, bushcraft, arms training and typing.
One's position as cadet was always under review with dismissal for breaking certain regulations or failing academically never far from the front of one's mind.
During this 19 month period only 11 took this course, the rest graduating as constables, able to serve upon turning 19 years of age and being sworn in.
During training great friendships were made and life long bonds formed.
Every five years or so since we graduated in 1971 we have met somewhere in New Zealand to catch up, shoot the breeze and generally enjoy ourselves.
Few of the 71 who graduated made the police their entire working life with most leaving to start new working lives.
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Policing is a very tough gig. The variety of work taken on by those who left is broad with investigators, teachers, lawyers, farmers, real estate, poets, health professionals, successful businessmen, truckies, clergymen, artists, salvage work, public service and dodgy prose writing to name but a few callings.
We are all pensioners now with some still working.
Most seem to have done well and health is now becoming an issue for many of us.
We are all 67 or 68 and still have that glint of fun and mischief in our eyes.