Now I’m not a fan of reruns, but I recently watched an episode of Columbo and there is something about this series, even though I’ve watched it countless of times; that whenever it’s on, on a lazy Sunday afternoon I just can’t resist watching it!

Anyway, there was a scene, which went something like this…

Columbo: Sergeant, come in here

Sergeant – enters the room: Yes Lieutenant [Columbo]

Columbo: Have you seen one of these before?

Sergeant: No – never seen one of those before [pointing to something on the desk]. What is it?

Columbo: A facsimile machine!

Remember them?…

The programme goes on and someone explains to Columbo how to use it, as well as what always happens at the end of each movie (sorry to spoil the plot for you): he catches the bad guy/girl – after following them around for half the show asking them hypothetical questions. Classic!

I had to laugh at Columbo and his Sergeant’s innocent interaction – it was like they were seeing snow for the first time! It really brought home, just how far we have come, in such a short space of time, in this age of technology. Typewriters, facsimiles, CD’s, cassette tapes, vinyl records (although they’re making a comeback and now being sold in a major food store where every little helps!) …I catch myself saying ‘I remember when’ sometimes.

Technology continues to move at a phenomenal pace; shifting and pushing the boundaries – so much so, we don’t even realise it! It’s amazing just how we’re interrupted and disrupted in our day to day and by what is now deemed to be considered, by some, the acceptable norm e.g. the posting of real time crime in action on social media! In this digital era I think it’s even more important for us to be continuously engaged in the learning and self-development space, making sure that we’re not seen to be the dinosaur Sergeant and the what is now outdated facsimile machine in Columbo!

I’m currently working in the arena of apprenticeships. It’s the government’s vision for there to be three million apprenticeships in England by 2020 and in April this year a number of changes were introduced.

There has been a lot of press/discussion/debate about university tuition fees (www.bbc.co.uk) with differing views from political parties; the increase in student debt, the value for money/lack thereof, of a university education, not to mention the average university vice chancellor’s salary said to be in the region of £275k (www.independent.co.uk).

It feels as though apprenticeships have a real opportunity of becoming the acceptable alternative, to achieving a university degree education – with Degree and Masters apprenticeship levels available across different industries.

I suspect that there will be some legacy attached to the word ‘apprentice’, but over time, that will soon dissipate as apprenticeships become part of the fabric of organisations development programmes.

Thinking about where we are now and replaying the scene in that much loved episode of Columbo; will we soon get to the place where the traditional route of a university education will become the outdated facsimile machine, the CD or cassette tape with apprenticeships being the acceptable norm and future of how we achieve higher levels of academic and professional qualifications?

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