I was more than happy to hear in the Conservative party’s election manifesto one particular line: “For too long in this country, technical excellence has not been valued as highly as academic success.”
I’m not saying that degrees aren’t a good route for some people, but for too long apprenticeships haven’t been regarded with the recognition that they deserve.
We have a skills gap that’s a huge cause for concern, and we need to take steps to secure quality apprenticeships and training like T-Levels to make sure this shortage doesn’t damage our future workforce.
The Conservatives’ pledge to put employers at the centre of reforms is designed to smash the UK’s skills gap and, together with the affirmation of the three million new apprenticeships by 2020 target, gives me confidence that all the hard work so many of us have done in recent years is valued and will be built upon.
Brexit and the general election have dominated the headlines and our everyday life, but with good reason. We need assurance that we get a deal, a strong leader and a government that takes into consideration the needs of businesses and their employees, this includes meeting the skills challenge.
There’s a lack of skilled people available to employers, and on top of that, those that are available don’t always fit with the company’s ethos and culture. Apprenticeships eliminate these issues. Training someone up within a company, who’s surrounded by existing employees, will buy into the culture and eventually be armed with the skills the company needs.
Replacing technical excellence
To add insult to injury, we may no longer have a pool of talented EU nationals to pick from any longer, as the definitive Brexit deal, and what will become of those very people, has yet to be negotiated. Therefore, we need to look at what needs improving at home and be confident in our workers.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, had it spot on when writing for The Telegraph. He said: “Education and training systems here at home remain in a state of permanent revolution and change making them increasingly less useful to employers who wish to build a pipeline of work-ready young people that they can train and grow further.”
I believe that the Conservatives’ manifesto could bring us sturdy and respectable training our country can be proud of. Their manifesto also includes a promise to bring in “significant” discounts on bus and train travel for apprentices, which I have to say is an inspired piece of policy making, and represents a real wage increase for those who have dedicated their young lives to training themselves to help build our country’s future prosperity.
This, along with their pledge to drop corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020 and the Apprenticeship Levy, could help our SMEs grow – allowing each to make more appointments and mould hard-working apprentices into skilled, experienced workers, of the utmost value.
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