After campaigning by retired school teacher Ivor Lee, an out-of-school AutoCad course for under-16s, funded by a grant from the Engineering and Marine Training Authority, has got off the ground in Coventry.
Lee, a former draughtsman, says schools cannot afford industrial standard PCs and software needed for CAD. His solution is to use equipment in local technical colleges during quiet periods to train schoolchildren outside school hours. Facilities are being provided by Coventry Technical College and the Coventry and Warwick Training organisation.
Between the end of the school day and the start of evening classes equipment is under-used, he says. `Adopting an out-of-school approach and using under-utilised resources funded by the tax-payer is a sensible approach,’ he says.
He would like to see the idea taken up by industry and turned into a nationwide programme of free CAD tuition for children outside schools.
Although he backs the Schools CAD/CAM initiative, Lee says his idea would have worked for a fraction of the cost. But his proposal fell into the gaps between funding regimes – the Further Education Funding Council will not fund courses for under-16s and the local education authority will not fund courses out of school. Until recently, there has been a lack of industrial interest.
`Sometime in the future industry might see the light and fund what is a very cost-effective way to get the engineers they require,’ he says.