|Shauni O'Neill, station master|
Shauni describes how passengers and staff alike laughed at her first station announcements as a trainee, because she sounded so happy. “You’re not really meant to sound that happy when you’re telling people about delays on the Metropolitan Line.” Now she is the station manager at Chalfont and Latimer underground station at the age of 18, earning a good salary and with ambitions to reach the top in TfL. As Shauni points out, if she had taken the university route, she would have begun accumulating debt rather than earning a good salary and well on the way on her chosen career path.
At last there seems to be a shift away from the absurd New Labour dream of seeing 50 per cent of the population going to university. Quite apart from the sheer cost, the dubious nature of the some of the degree courses and the high dropout rate, it is increasingly recognised that there are other routes to building a successful working life and career. This is particularly so in the world of construction and engineering, powerfully brought home earlier this month at the Big Bang Science andEngineering Fair at the NEC Birmingham.
|Thumbs up for the Big Bang Fair|
Making the right decision is more important than taking the one that is perceived to be the 'better' decision. The Big Bang Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths for young people in the UK. Everything is aimed at showing just how many exciting and rewarding opportunities there are out there for them with the right experience and qualifications. With over three days of wall-to-wall science and engineering shows, activities and workshops, the Fair attracted 56,000 visitors, including young people and very importantly their parents and teachers.
Shauni O'Neill recounts how her teachers told her she was too intelligent to do an apprenticeship - "but now they've seen that I've done well and it's a viable option, I've been invited back to school to talk about it."
|Captivating: flying penguins at the record breaking Big Bang Fair 2012|