Striking the right balance

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IT seems only right that Sheffield’s youngest citizens should be protected from the full ferocity of council cutbacks, with seven per cent of cuts planned instead of ten in other departments.

Preparing under fives for school and supporting families who are often struggling to keep heads above water are vital tasks for our society which need full support.

So it is encouraging to hear the city’s children’s supremo Jackie Drayton insist that front line services will be protected, while waste and duplication in the service will be eliminated.

Some of the city’s 36 children’s centres face closure, it is true - but we are told that the support they provide will not be lost but relocated elsewhere.

The only snag in all this is that at the moment there is little hard information on what will change and where - and as we know so well, the devil can be in the detail.

It may be many months before the full impact of what is sure to be a major upheaval in the way our under fives are catered for will become clear.

Only then will it be seen if the right balance between efficiency savings and quality services has been struck.

Education done the practical way

MASSIVE opportunities are opening up for the Sheffield City Region to lead the way in training a new generation of skilled engineers.

In the dream scenario, they would be capable of putting manufacturing back on top as a major source of wealth creation.

So the creation of Sheffield University Technical College is a pivotal initiative when it comes to realising the dream.

To see how it might work, look at Germany, which has known for years the way to a successful, balanced economy is by catering for people with practical minds and capabilities.

The theory goes that if we value these people, they will excel at innovation.

It is a lesson we taught Germany as we helped to reconstruct their economy after the Second World War.

And then we promptly forgot the lesson.

No wonder industry has complained loud and long – and rightly – about the failure of education to teach young people the skills they need for the world of work.

Bosses have also been long bemoaning the devaluation of apprenticeships.

So the Technical College deserves the wholehearted support of local business, through sponsorship, funding and, most important of all, active participation in creating courses that link practical challenges with education.