Placing modesty aside (just this once)
despite having always been a "top of the class" sort of kid at school (even though my Old Man never let me do homework at er, home:- I can still hear him bellowing "School work is to be done at school!"), I nevertheless left school early (at age fifteen, as we could back then), at the end of the fourth year, and so obviously didn't get a shot at University.
I was lucky enough, however, to be steered towards an Apprenticeship in the Army (I doubt that young people in the UK get such opportunities these days, regrettably), and spent three years doing that. It provided the solid foundation for everything I have done since!
In later years, my "university" has been the University of Life. Like you Neil, an inquiring mind, an interest in all things technical, and learning by doing. By far the best combination, in my opinion. Plus a willingness to learn, and take on board new ideas (if they are indeed found to be any good ... which is not always the case)! That's how many of us old-school biomeds were "taught"! Hands-on, practical people, we were, in many ways, the pioneers.
There used to be quite a few of us around. Engineering technicians at C&G, ONC or HNC level. Often ex-Forces, and almost certainly ex-something or other (TV trade is another one that comes to mind). We were the backbone of biomed (and probably still are, for all I know ... I would like to think so, anyway).
And that's one of the reasons that I kind of resent biomed being hijacked (as it seems to be today) by what I would call "educated idiots"! That is, people who appear to be more interested in protecting their precious "professional status", whether this guy is on a different Pay Band to some other guy, NHS politics, car-parking perks, talking about becoming "clinical scientists" and all the rest ... rather than the practicalities of the job, and cracking on with getting the work done, for the benefit of the hospital, the sick, injured and needy. In short, missing the point of it all by at least a country mile!
People may think (correctly in this case) that I have a "thing" about not going to University myself. Well I admit it, I do. Perhaps I should have stayed on, done the sixth form, and all the rest. No doubt I would have become a "University success", as others did! However, Fate decreed that I take a different path. Maybe it was the Gods of Biomed who intervened, who knows! And anyway, what real value are these degrees nowadays, now that they are two-a-penny? That is, "everybody has one"!
By the way, I have worked with, for (and had working for me) many university trained people. I don't recall ever having a problem in "keeping up with them" (often the reverse, in fact). With most of the (best) people I have known and admired, it just never became an issue. In fact, casting my mind back to some of the genius guys
I have had the pleasure (privilege) of working with, I can honestly say that I don't remember if they had an engineering degree or not (but most likely it was the latter)!
Meanwhile, with all this talk of training, "training the trainer" and all the rest, I can't understand why hospital-based people don't just follow the time-honoured mentoring system used by surgeons:-"Watch one, do one, teach one"
If anyone needs further explanation, then that in itself is indicative of the problem, as far as I'm concerned.