Plum Job Is Not Always the One That Sounds Good; CAREERS: Company Directors Urge Shake-Up in Education and More Emphasis on Vocational Training

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IT may seem like a cushy three years. Why spend your last few teenage years sweating on a building site when you could be sat in an airconditioned lecture theatre discussing the socio-political implications of Reservoir Dogs? But you could be in for a shock. While you later spend your twenties running errands as a researcher the boy in your class who didn't go to university could be earning more than your boss.

In the United States plumbers are at such a premium that many in New York charge thousands of dollars for call-outs. The UK is not far behind. Institute of Plumbing Cardiff branch representative Andrew Leonard said, ``There is a shortage of plumbers at the moment. It is believed that around 29,000 more plumbers are needed in Britain.''

Company directors are calling for a shake-up of the education system, with fewer people completing ``inappropriate'' degrees and an increased emphasis on vocational training.

Institute of Directors policy director Ruth Lea said, ``The current obsession with sending as many young people as possible into higher education undermines vocational training by making it appear a second best. This helps no one, least of all many students who study inappropriate courses, and continues to put us at a disadvantage in the international vocational skills league tables.

``We need more plumbers and fewer media-studies graduates.''

However, the head of careers at the University of Glamorgan, Euros Evans, said, ``I think completing a degree course gives people added value skills in terms of communication, confidence and work placements, which all help in the world of work.

``The latest figures show that 75pc of media-studies graduates leaving the University of Glamorgan find employment within six months.''

Media studies graduateEMMA MEEK, 26, from Aberdare, has an annual salary of pounds 18,500 as a copywriter/press assistant at the University of Glamorgan.

``I graduated from De Montford University in Leicester in 1996 with a BA in media studies,'' she said.

``I'd always wanted to work in the media and it was quite a new course at that stage. I'd argue that it is vocational training of a sort because you could choose practical modules like journalism and video, as well as theory-based courses. …