Being a monthly newspaper, Valley News has to judge what is relevant to readers at the time of publication and distribution.

It’s important to keep up with community news and national events such as Brexit. But, locally, life must go on and the future is now, so examining current needs is vital for future action.

One theme gaining grounds is the need to prove apprentices are just as good as university graduates at doing jobs, whether technical, manual, or intellectual.

On January 17, Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced that a greater focus would be put on schools to encourage school-leavers to look at apprenticeships as ‘a way forward’.

Perhaps he should have said that apprenticeships are just as good as university degrees when it comes to getting a job, and it has been proved that skilled crafts workers can earn as much as white collar office workers.

In some industries, skilled workers can become company executives or even owners of their own businesses.

The difference is that apprentices can earn while they learn, but some university students are clocking up tuition fees and living expenses, with little or no hope of earning enough to repay the debt.

Schools that promote apprenticeships, such as Salisbury-based South Wilts University Training College Salisbury Sixth Form College, and Wiltshire College and University Centre should be given more encouragement. In Dorset, the choice for specialist apprenticeship education and training is much more limited.

I was stung by how far-reaching apprenticeships can be when I was sent a story by a bee-breeding company after the minister’s announcement about encouraging apprenticeships.

The bee specialist wrote: “While bees are such a critical component of the future food provision in the UK, bee-keeping is rarely mentioned in the list of available university degrees, and one of the few routes to becoming a professional is through the support of businesses engaging with apprenticeships.

“Today’s announcement is very welcome,” said Simon Cavill. “The importance of bees both in a health and food context is not adequately recognised, and involving schools now in encouraging students to look to apprenticeships for their careers will really help us raise the profile and the opportunities.”

Premium skincare brand Bee Good specialises in products using British honey, beeswax and propolis. Co-founder Simon Cavill is a bee-keeper following his passion for bees which drove him to start his unique skincare brand.

Like many good ideas, Bee Good started at the kitchen table. Harvesting honey provided large quantities of honey and beeswax, and Simon and his wife Caroline were looking for ways to use the skin-friendly ingredients.

They started making and selling lip balms and hand creams at local fairs and farmer’s markets, and won awards.

Bee Good was formally established to produce industry standard skincare. Now Simon wants to pass on his vital bee-keeping expertise through apprenticeships.

David Parker, Editor

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