Councillor Richard Trail, who has been Depute Lead Councillor for Education and Life Long Learning and who is now the top Lead in the role at Argyll and Bute Council, has a fascinating career background.
This has involved taking the sort of retraining decision which allows him to understand the complex needs of lifelong learning as well as of the traditional educational provisional.
Richard Trail trained as a structural engineer and worked in design offices both in this country and in the Middle East.
This international experience and the energetic willingness to go where the work was, will have made him outward looking rather than parochial; and gives him a experienced background in what we think of as the ‘hard side of the house’ in education as opposed to the ‘soft side of the house’ in the humanities. Argyll and Scotland needs a lot more understanding of and emphasis on subjects like engineering, the sciences, medicine and the mathematics that underpin them.
When the construction industry took a downturn round about 1990, Mr Trail made the transition to being a lecturer at Stow College. [It's impossible not to wonder what he privately made of local MSP Michael Russell, in Education Secretary mode, recently calling for and getting the head of the President of Stow College who had recorded a ministerial address to college principals for the benefit of those who were unable to attend.]
After over 10 years at Stow College, Mr Trail left to become self employed as a software developer.
So here we have at the helm of Education and Lifelong Learning in Argyll and Bute, someone who has had the courage, the confidence and the will to work to reshape his career according to circumstances; and who has worked in the corporate construction sector; a tertiary level teacher; and in self employment in a field of primary importance in innovation and economic development.
This could be fun – although Councillor Trail is likely to face a baptism of fire if council officers run the rule in the matter of school closures. This just might be the Councillor to stand his ground. We have to hope for that. It will be interesting to see what ground he choses and how he describes it.