Mining Barges have done more damage to this game than any other decision ever made by CCP. The entire mechanic behind mining is at cross purposes to rest of the game. This is a game that rewards aggression, awareness and ingenuity. None of these traits apply with mining. Skills like Astrogeology or Veldspar Processing III give no benefit outside of a highly specialized activity. Indeed all of the skills behind mining provide zero benefit to ship survival; in a game that is built upon combat and warfare.
Try looking at this from the other direction. Generations of players have come to this game after trailers of battles and epic conflict - “here’s your venture, now go laser some rocks”. The goods inside the box, do not really match the picture on the outside.
The NPE should be a basic combat drill that builds upon a layered foundation of; gunnery, mobility and tanking. All whilst introducing a rudimentary fitting understanding.
Let me ask you, do you think that you would learn chess if you were given a lathe, some wood, chisels or if the pieces were actually put on the board and moves the moves demonstrated? Take your time.
Because after the moves get demonstrated, if it great if you can be placed with another player of similar experience, at the board and then put into practice all the learning. Actually playing the game. Because that should be the NPE too.
Would it really be a loss if resource gathering was treated as advanced play, gated behind core set of basic ship principals? Then it would be expected that ships for resource gathering will also follow basic ship principals - instead of being an exception to the rule merely for it’s sake? So yes, barges do not fit here - they do not fit at all.