Paying the price for experience

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The Independent Online
FORMER FLIGHT Lieutenant Gary "Mitch" Mitchell is the answer to David Blunkett's prayers. He is a trained design and technology teacher - one of the areas where there is an acute shortage of applicants of any kind - let alone good graduates with experience.

Mr Mitchell, 36, has a good degree and 17 years' experience in the RAF, working on electrical systems on air force Phantoms, Nimrods and Harriers across the world. He firmly believes teaching is the job for him.

But when Mr Mitchell graduated from Nottingham Trent University earlier this year, he could find no school willing to pay for his experience.

Faced with the prospect of a graduate's pounds 14,000 a year salary, which would only rise to pounds 23,000 after seven year's experience, Mr Mitchell turned his back on schools and started looking for a job in industry.

British Aerospace snapped him up. Mr Mitchell is now preparing to train Saudi air force staff in aircraft maintenance. The salary: pounds 33,000 a year.

Mr Mitchell, who has two children, said: "I do feel I have sold out for the materialistic world and it does make me feel a little guilty.

"When I was in the RAF I was involved in the Air Training Corps. There was a big sense of achievement when the kids were achieving things. I thought I would get the same sense of satisfaction from teaching.

"I gave up pounds 25,000 when I left the air force. I knew I could go into industry and get a job paying pounds 20,000 or more straight away. I could have afforded to start on pounds 14,000 but I would have struggled. There needs to be a more flexible pay structure and help to recreate the profession as it was years ago.

"When I said I was training to be a teacher, people said 'what do you want to do that for?'

"It is not all about money. We need a teaching profession with status and a bit of kudos. I did not want to feel ashamed to say I was a teacher."

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