HAYES IN THE HOUSE: Appreciating the real value of craft
I have always admired those who earn their living through practical activities such as craft, construction and engineering.
As the philosopher Alain De Botton observed, for many of us, “our exertions generally find no enduring physical correlatives.” Yet, “how different everything is for the craftsman who can step back at the end of a day or lifetime and point to an object-whether a square of canvas, a chair or a clay jug-- and see it as a stable repository of his skills.”
I am personally proud of the role I played in elevating the status of practical learning, challenging the misassumption that only academic accomplishment really matters.
As Minister for Transport, I witness the reality of this each time I visit the great engineering projects of our age - such as Crossrail, where I met young apprentices last week - and meet the many talented builders and engineers responsible for their construction. To meet these people is to learn the true value of craft.
The more pleasure we take in our work, the more of ourselves we invest in it, the more we get from it in return. Materially perhaps, but, most importantly, aesthetically – what we do is what we are.
It is for this reason I am personally proud of the role I played in elevating the status of practical learning, challenging the misassumption that only academic accomplishment really matters. As Skills Minister, I put in place policies which helped businesses create more apprenticeships than modern Britain had ever seen before.
Now, with the Government on track to deliver 3 million apprenticeships during this Parliament, we can see the role that such schemes are playing in creating the highly skilled and productive workforce needed to support our country’s economic growth.
This rebirth of apprenticeships is part of a wider mission to rebuild our appreciation of craft and the values it embodies. Craft should be honoured and those who master it revered; working to encourage the learning of practical skills, building both demand for them and recognition of their worth.
As the great visionary William Morris wrote, craft is an activity that engages all our capacities, for the craftsman is “making something which he feels will exist because he is working at it and wills it, is exercising the energies of his mind and soul as well as his body.”