172016Mar

Apprenticeships provide benefit for all concerned

My latest column in the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald, and Wiltshire Times.
Gazette Column 18 March 16
This week is National Apprenticeship Week. A week aimed at banging the drum for apprenticeships.

It is about showcasing the excellent work that has been taking place across the country to really shout from the rooftop — an apprenticeship can take you anywhere. For me, apprenticeships embody one simple idea — opportunity.

They are an opportunity for young people to gain hands on experience in the workplace while getting a top class qualification. They are also an opportunity for employers – they make huge commercial sense.

For too long employers have complained that they cannot find the skilled workforce they need. We have now put employers in the driving seat in designing apprenticeships. Businesses now have a say on how apprenticeships run and what they have to offer. Employers can develop the employees of the future. Apprentices are proven to help improve the quality of a company’s products and services while nurturing talent that is immersed in the culture and values of each business.

Apprenticeships are a win-win for individuals, employers and the economy at large. For that reason, I welcome the Government’s aim to train 3 million apprentices by 2020. Almost 28,000 apprenticeships have been created in the past 5 years in Wiltshire and there are currently hundreds of apprenticeship opportunities with more and more companies looking at taking on new apprentices. From our largest employers like Dyson and Good Energy to smaller firms like John Williams Hearting, it’s heartening to see so many businesses getting stuck in and grabbing the opportunity to take on apprentices knowing they will help their businesses grow.

For more information on apprenticeships visit the Government’s website: gov.uk

Over the past 20 years the investment and training in skills has been in decline, which is why the Government are introducing an apprenticeship levy to ensure a highly skilled workforce for the future. Coming into force in April
2017, the levy will only be paid by employers with a pay bill of £3m or more, that’s less than 2 per cent of employers, but it will make a huge difference in the opportunities of aspiring engineers, designers, accountants – in fact all professions. You can now take a valuable apprenticeship in virtually anything.

I had the opportunity this week to hold my first debate in Parliament. The subject I chose was the future of engineering and design technology in education and I believe that, cross-party, we made a very positive case for emboldening those vital qualifications. You can watch the debate or read my speech on my website michelledonelan.com or watch it at https://youtu.be/lfFl4ZtGvLM

As always, if you would like to contact me about any local or national issue or concern please call 01249 704465 or email michelle.donelan.mp@parliament.uk