AS someone who is over 70 I’m genuinely troubled by the whole concept of further education as the best way forward for young people at 16 or 17. The trend now is almost to assume that more than 50% of our school leavers will go into further education.

My generation was very fortunate that we could start a career as an apprentice in some trade if we didn’t have the grades, the aptitude, or indeed even the wish to stay in education.

Rather than spending hundreds of millions on education should we not be pumping cash into modern apprenticeships that include modern jobs as well as the traditional joiner, bricklayer, mechanic, welder et al?

It’s quite astonishing that despite the demand for tradespeople there is a dearth of qualified people and getting hold of a tradesperson can take weeks. The Government and business should be encouraging young people to leave education to enter the world of apprenticeships.

On a personal note I started my life as an apprentice joiner and it gave me a good living, but much more importantly it gave me confidence, it taught me discipline and there’s no doubt in my mind it served me 10 times better than spending years in further education. I was earning my own cash, contributing by paying digs money and by the time I was 21 I had five years' work experience and was full of confidence.

I was later able to pursue a career in sales management knowing I could always go “back on the tools” if it didn’t work out.

In my day it was the cleverest 10 per cent or so of people who went to university. This may have been too low but it’s almost ridiculous to think that 50% of our young people are academically clever enough to spend four years building up debt when they could be earning a wage and developing a skill.

Finally, the idea that there is a choice is quite wrong. Our young people who don’t wish to stay in education have very little choice because of the lack of apprenticeships on offer.

John Gilligan, Ayr.

What happened to parenting?

WE'RE told that union leaders have accused the Scottish Government of ''persistent underfunding'' of education and claim there is now a ''crisis'' in the recruitment and retention of teachers ("Union hits out at shortage of teachers and underfunding", The Herald. May 13). The fundamental problem with education, and indeed of the NHS also, is not funding, in particular salaries, but rather the conditions of work.

Over the past dozen or so years teachers have been been required to take on board tasks which are properly parental tasks. Teachers are standing in loco parentis in situations and tasks for which they were neither trained nor enlisted. Schools have been required to provide breakfasts for children. During and after the Second World War parents were in dire circumstances but neither asked for nor received the kinds of help from schools or teachers which parents take for granted now. What became of the notion of parenthood?

Doug Clark, Currie.

• THE rising incidence of violent behaviour by pupils towards teachers and classmates clearly demonstrates that an increasing number of parents lack the capacity or the willingness to instil values of self-respect and respect for others in their children.

Whatever the reasons for this, instead of passing off a state of affairs which amounts to wilful child neglect with platitudes such as “support for parents and children” and “advice to teachers”, it is high time the Scottish Government addressed the reality of the situation by introducing tuition in parenting in schools. Lacking such meaningful action, succeeding generations of children will increasingly be failed, with entirely predictable consequences for themselves and society at large.

D Macintyre, Greenock.

Read more: SNP must reverse this disastrous policy on university fees

Confusion over Glasgow

LEZ I THINK some clarification is required on the boundaries of Glasgow's Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

According to signage on the M8 you will be entering an LEZ if you exit any junction between 15 and 19. This may cause confusion to drivers going to the Royal Infirmary, either to visit or attend A&E.

In fact the Royal and access roads are not within the area; I'm not sure of the adjacent car parks. In an emergency some drivers may panic and divert to a longer route.

Bill Thompson, Lenzie.

We should learn from Arnie

THERE has been much media coverage of the current handwringing over the merits and demerits of Artificial Intelligence which is about to be unleashed on the world.

To bring some focus on the likely outcome I would ask a simple question: have our leaders or eminent scientists not watched the Terminator movies where mankind has to be saved from extinction by Skynet, a hostile artificial intelligence in a post-apocalyptic future?

Are we heading toward Judgment Day?

Is life imitating art?

All I can add is that if my name was Sarah Connor or Kyle Reese, I would be looking over my shoulder.

Hasta la vista baby.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

Next stop Millen Gavvi?

I NOTE Rab McNeil's disaffection with Alexa’s chit-chat voice ("Alexa virtually did my head in but could we start over?", Herald Magazine, May 13), and that a recent poll found “folk were fed-up with the ‘too posh’ accents of virtual assistants" from supermarkets to public transport announcements, and would welcome regional accents.

That I understand, but I recall a train journey some years ago when the recorded announcement of station stops on the Clyde coastal route by a young lady clearly from these airts included a grating “Wemm-Izz Bay”.

I sometimes wonder if any strangers on board arrived safely at their journey’s end in Rothysay.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

The agony and the ecstasy

I HAVE just enjoyed a concert by a full orchestra playing John Williams film music. This compared very favourably with the Eurovision Song Contest which included many compositions in which it would need Bletchley Park experts to find any meanings or music. Having seen and heard the winning song I ask myself if the singer was having an orgasm or bemoaning the lack of one?

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.