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Billy is a tosser

This is because we do not have in this country the electricians, plumbers, bricklayers, plasterers, tilers, scaffolders, bathroom fitters and roofers who would be needed to build 300,000 homes every year. Their skills cannot just be conjured up, but need training and apprenticeships that can take years. They are the very skills that will also be in demand to retrofit existing homes with heat pumps, change cladding that should never have been installed, and work on big infrastructure projects such as HS2. And they are skills that we — we as a society, including industry and schools, as well as ministers of all parties — have not been producing in sufficient numbers for a long time.

So, did Hague, at any point, suggest that closing down all the trades schools and turning them into universities was going to be a bad idea? That teaching everyone grievance studies instead of building might be a bad idea?

No, no, he didn’t, did he?

29 thoughts on “Billy is a tosser”

  1. Since the end of lockdowns I have noticed electricians in particular but also plumbers, plasterers, handymen and even rubbish/skip collectors turning up to jobs with their teenage sons in tow learning the trade.

    A common feature of conversations with dad was that school/college was not helping the boy (to say the least) and the change was working out well for everyone.

    Too few alas but at least some are doing the right thing.

  2. Actually.. it’s not really the trade schools that are the bottleneck here.
    Well.. other than them almost not existing anymore so there’s no actual training of basic skills going on.

    Thing is, you can teach a moderately competent person any of the basic skills needed to do plumbing or ‘leccie, or any of the other things needed to build a house in about three to six months. Most of it On the Job, even.
    Most of the work involved does not require any special skills or aptitude.
    Some of it does require a significant amount of experience to do it at commercial speed, but experience can’t be taught in schools to begin with.
    But most of the actual skills you need haven’t changed since the early Stone Age.

    The biggest hurdle to building many homes are actually the Guilds Unions and Trade Associations placing ridiculous demands on Membership “Competency”, aided by their pals in the relevant Regulating Bodies and Insurance Companies.

    They’re creating Masonry Managers instead of training bricklayers, Electrical “Engineers” instead of actual electricians, etc. All across the board, not just in construction.
    And as long as that lot doesn’t get kicked out to the curb, prefarably with prejudice, the problem will never get solved.
    Because it is not in their interest to actually solve it. Their meal ticket depends on it and they damn well know they are actually useless at the things they’re supposed to make happen.

  3. He’s had 35 years in parliament, half of that in government and has achieved the square root of fuck all. And now he’s got his nose firmly up Blair’s arsehole.

    Ironically, we’d all be better off if he’d trained as a plumber.

  4. We could just stop paying people to come here and that would stop the need for more housing.
    Foreigners can only get British citizenship if
    a) they have been here legally
    b) they can show that they earn enough to support themselves.
    c) they have never broken the law

    Benefits and social housing are for British citizens only.
    If the Tories were to make a law saying that is illegal for non British citizens to have social housing they could win the next election.

  5. John,

    “A common feature of conversations with dad was that school/college was not helping the boy (to say the least) and the change was working out well for everyone.”

    Two things with that. Half of kids should leave school at 14, and the most of the rest at 16. This extension to 18 is a waste of time for anyone but academic kids.

    Secondly, the people teaching a lot of technical and arts stuff have no experience, and teach what the educational establishment think is important, but really isn’t. Like if you want to learn filmmaking, go and watch the Masterclass courses, where Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and David Fucking Mamet impart their wisdom.

  6. ’Most of the work involved does not require any special skills or aptitude.’

    Hasn’t a big housing firm just hit the news for having to knock down some of its brand new shoddy build rabbit hutches, Grikath?

  7. ’If the Tories were to make a law saying that is illegal for non British citizens to have social housing they could win the next election.’

    Why, David? Would you believe them, then?

  8. Timmy, unlike you, but you’ve missed an absolute essential for the proper functioning of a democracy.
    It wasn’t Hague’s fault. It was the Tory government of which Bill was a mere cog. He wasn’t to blame.
    That way nobody can be held to account. If someone in public life could be singled out, chaos would reign!
    In the private sector someone must be blamed and the current victim is Musk for the appalling hate crime of seeming to value free speech when any fule know, the Black Broadcasting Company has the right idea. Spend an enormous amount of somebody else’s money on a lightning conductor to draw away any consequences of your actions. Yes, poor old jug-ears, I’m looking at you…

  9. Marius – I agree.

    We need sparkies, plumbers and plasterers.

    Nobody needs Willie Hague, not even Ffion. The British contingent to the Golgafrinchan B-Ark is ridiculously large and bald.

  10. @JuliaM

    The houses that had to get taken down were due to the developers cheaping out and deliberately putting insufficient foundations in the design. This was almost certainly an MBA decision to save a few quid, and not an issue with the actual trades doing the building. Most of the issues with new builds — construction issues, not the bedrooms that won’t fit a bed, garages that won’t fit a car and “gardens” that you can get a paper-cut on — are due to penny-pinching, substandard materials where the right part would cost an extra 20p, and rushing the subbies so they can’t do their jobs to an adequate standard.

  11. In case you’re curious, we have the same problem in Oz.

    Too many migrants allowed in and then, ‘Oh!!! No houses.’

  12. Technical schools wouldn’t have made any difference. The old rule. Those that can do, do. Those that can’t hack doing, teach. (And those can’t hack teaching, manage? Who knows?)
    Sent one of our lads off on an electricians course to qualify so he could certify our installations. Came back knowing how to wire caravans. That doesn’t help you get 40 pairs, neatly, into a small consumer unit or know where, behind the plaster, the sparky wired a house ran his cables so you can splice into them. But it does let you sign a bit of paper.
    Most of these trades require experience. And you get the experience by doing them. For years. Converting a house to a heat pump system requires knowing how the guy put the existing system in & why he did what he did. Over maybe 40 years of differing requirements. Messing with existing plumbing requires knowing about maybe 25,000 different parts, some of them now no longer available & what they do.

  13. In bricklaying I learnt how to turn an arch & do Georgian/Victorian tuck pointing. I could earn a hundred quid an hour tuckpointing. Nowadays there probably only a literal handful of pointers in London know how it’s done.

  14. What Grikath said…. Anyone with influence builds barriers to entry and maintains them. They don’t build and maintain actual houses unless they really, really have to.

  15. Off topic but Spud is blaming the rise on measles cases on……..neoliberalism.

    Apparently the WHO declared the UK free of measles in 2017 but since then something has been happening which has resulted in much lower take-up on vaccinations and it can only be neoliberalism. Given that the midlands seems to be a hotspot, I guess they have more neoliberalism than the rest of the country.

    A colleague of mine did point out that an NHS study found that take up of the vaccine was lowest among the black and Pakistani/Bangladeshi communities and my colleague asked if Spud thought this might be because neoliberalism was rampant in those communities but Spud hasn’t responded.

  16. “Hasn’t a big housing firm just hit the news for having to knock down some of its brand new shoddy build rabbit hutches, Grikath?”

    Why, yes, Julia..

    If you mean the ones in Cambridge, note that that was a foundation problem… The actual houses themselves were built pretty solid to not have come down right away.

    Which only proves my point: Foundations, and the calculations applying to them, are firmly in Educated Territory: It’s either the architect or the engineering outfit that designed them who royally forked up there.
    Both, really, since Engineering should have spotted the error in foundation..
    The actual builders simply wire the netting and pour the concrete as indicated, on pain of pain of not doing so.

    I’d float a tenner that there’s a good chance one of the actual builders or foremen noticed the mistake and tried to warn peeps higher up about it.
    Of course, Engineers are never wrong. Architects doubly so, because they’re really just “conceptual artists”.
    After all.. What do these uneducated oiks know about Building Things. They aren’t even educated, let alone certified….
    So you end up with …well… Fukushima on repeat performance..

    This is actually quite a common occurrence. It’s just that usually these definitely-not-mistakes are caught pretty early and corrected before it really shows.
    Because contractors aren’t stupid, and know they’ll be on the hook when that definitely-not-a-mistake will inevitably cause problems.
    So they refuse to build whatever the blueprint says until it gets actually looked at again and specifically signed off. With a proper paper trail.

  17. Georgian/Victorian tuck pointing

    Back in the late 50s I had, as a young stude, a couple of summers working on the heavy gang at St Paul’s Cathedral. Fascinating time, as an aside. The last bit of WW2 bomb damage was being repaired, the dome of the North Transept. The brickie doing the reconstruction had no idea how Mr Wren’s builders had created the dome and it took him three attempts to work out how to do it – with two associated knock-downs…

  18. “Most of these trades require experience. And you get the experience by doing them. For years”

    Having spent my working (and now supposedly retired) life fault finding and repairing stuff, I couldn’t agree more. I’m old enough to have done a traditional 3 year apprenticeship, including block release at the local “Tech”, But by the time I could see the writing on the wall (and got out), my company was practically taking on people from the Job Centre and sending them out to customers after 3 months “training”. The problem with this being that basic knowledge and some clever diagnostic equipment can deal with 95% of calls, but it’s the other 5% which need those years of experience. And those 5% (as I can attest) are the faults which end up with letters to their paper and/or MP, and a barrage of swearing at the front door when I got involved!

    “I’d float a tenner that there’s a good chance one of the actual builders or foremen noticed the mistake and tried to warn peeps higher up about it”

    My late father recounted an actual case of this during his structural engineering career. A labourer was concerned that the reinforcing steel he was tasked with installing looked too flimsy (based on his years of doing such work). He spoke to the site engineer who (fortunately) agreed, immediately shut the job down, and ordered an investigation into work already completed. However, this was decades ago, and with the present day witch hunts against “Whistle-blowers” I very much doubt any “trades” would do the same now…

  19. “No recourse to public funds” is a good idea to deter immigration, in theory.
    In theory.
    Holders of the European Health Card can get free treatment on the NHS except for pre-existing conditions. Non Europeans “have” to pay.
    But have you ever heard of a hospital demanding payment from a patient? Most of them don’t even have an invoice department.

  20. @ Dave Ward – I also recall, in my own trade as a mechanical engineer, when I was starting out some 50 years ago (in the UK, if that matters) being taught to pay attention to what the guys in the shop had to say, and to seek their input, with proper respect. If not on first-name terms, always ‘Mister so-and-so’, handshake, listen to them because they had so much accumulated experience that no snot-nose of 23 with a degree with the ink barely dry could possibly match.
    When I retired, things are completely different – young engineers have no sense whatever of the practical side of their work, avoid the shop and its denizens like a bad smell, and start most disagreements with ‘well, my model shows that . . . ‘ They have all become expert software users who see the world through a flat screen, and the occasional outlier with real-world skills and a yen to learn more (often farm kids, I observed) are to be treasured when found.

    llater,

    llamas

  21. Secondly, the people teaching a lot of technical and arts stuff have no experience, and teach what the educational establishment think is important

    Indeed WB, we used to encounter teachers of IT who were doing “work experience” on our projects during holidays. They were incredibly clueless of even some of the most basic concepts with which we were dealing. They didn’t teach kids useful stuff about disk journalling or memory management but on social impact of IT and similar drivel.

  22. Bloke in North Dorset

    An electrician friend used to teach 2 days a week except when some new regs dropped, then he’d spend about 3 months teach full time as all electricians would have to do some sort of training test on them.

    I like the idea of sparkies and gas engineers having some basic level of qualification, if only to check they aren’t colour blind.

  23. When the polytechnics were converted to unis, they were already chock full of people studying sociology instead of plumbing. It was usually for a qualification validated by another uni, so promoting the poly to uni status basically allowed the institution to rubberstamp its own students instead of getting an external organisation in to do it. So if your complaint is “why ever did we start churning out so many sociology graduates?” (I originally wrote “sociologists” but in reality only a tiny number become such) then the answer has to lie much further back than the poly-to-uni “upgrading”, and to the funding decisions behind student recruitment well before that.

  24. I also recall… being taught to pay attention to what the guys in the shop had to say, and to seek their input, with proper respect.

    A friend of mine owns a big metal-bashing shop – they make stuff like truck dumpers, screw conveyors, vehicle ramps, and so on. Every couple of years he has to hire a new design engineer, and he generally recruits straight out of university. He tells the new hire that they will spend a year* working on the shop floor, and they have the choice of apprenticing as a welder or an iron worker, the two trades he has in his shop. At the end of the year, he asks the shop foreman whether he should keep the new engineer on in the design department.
    He says he gets three things out of it: first, the new engineer learns that stuff actually has to be fabricated, so he keeps that in mind in his designs; second, he learns that the guys on the shop floor know what they are talking about, and if he is smart he will listen to them; and third, the guys on the shop floor learn that the new engineer isn’t just some egghead in an office who bosses them around, but someone they know and who understands what they do.
    It seems to work for him – he’s been running the place for 30 or 40 years now, and they keep expanding.

    * the year doesn’t complete their apprenticeship – but he doesn’t want them as certified welders or iron workers.

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