Scotland's richest man, Jim McColl (pictured), is to open his own school in a disused factory in Cathcart. The factory is part of his Clyde Union business. He left school at 16 and now owns an empire which stretches to 90 companies in 30 countries.
Mr McColl is 'very concerned' at the levels of youth unemployment in Scotland and plans to open the new school, which will provide engineering studies, by the end of this year at the latest. The vocational education provided, plus the promise of a future job, will be aimed at pupils between 14 and 16 (third year pupils).
“We have to do something,” said Mr McColl, who is also the chairman of the Glasgow Works Partnership Board.
“The idea came to me when we had some young people apply to work with us, but the truth is they just weren’t up to it. But I didn’t want to give up on them. I’m very keen on training people. I think that very often there is a big mismatch between capability and employment.
“Some people are very good at certain things, but they don’t realise it until they are shown.”
He said: “I’m hoping this will become a new model for the way schools and industry work together. We’ll start with 30 pupils, but we want to build that up. We have capacity for 80.”
Doesn't this show how much the comprehensive system has let down a generation of young people? I've long advocated that the loss of the secondary modern school was also a loss to Scotland's educational system.
Providing young people with modern apprenticeships isn't good enough. They should not have to wait until they leave school before they begin a vocational course of study. We need to follow England's decision to reintroduce technical schools.
Mr McColl has the right idea offering 14 to 16 year olds a place in his new school and I hope his school is a monumental success. Maybe then politicians and educationalists will realise the one-size-fits-all comprehensive system has failed.