Apprenticeships will help us fill the skills gap

Abrasives manufactured in the West Midlands being demonstrated to a party of school pupils
Abrasives manufactured in the West Midlands being demonstrated to a party of school pupils

After the House rose for Summer recess, I had a chance to reflect on everything that has gone on in Westminster in the past few weeks

There have been many important debates and discussions which have been focussed on providing support for individuals and creating jobs and making Britain’s economy strong again. I continue to push for apprenticeships as we must not underestimate the fantastic opportunities they provide for young people. I strongly welcome the recent announcement of the biggest ever rise in the Pupil Premium for primary schools to help ensure more pupils are able to achieve higher standards and this will make a real difference in our own town.

In my first full week back in Burnley I was looking forward to having more time to be out and about in town. I was delighted to have a business visit to Radal Technology in Billington Road. As the world’s largest manufacturer of anti-smoking alarm systems, it was great to discuss their business with them. I was able to talk about apprenticeships and the way in which the Government can help businesses as we look towards economic recovery. They are a fantastic company who are at the forefront of their market and are another great example of Burnley producing world-class products we can be proud of!

On the Tuesday I was out and about in Whittlefield and it was good to speak to constituents and discuss their problems and thoughts about town. I had many positive discussions and was delighted the great weather was allowing people to experience many of the outdoor activities our town has to offer.

Later that day I was delighted to go to Pendle Community Hospital to receive a scanner donation from the Friends of the Pendle Community Hospital. I am delighted with their generous donation and touched by their commitment to the appeal and wish to again thank them for this wonderful amount. The scanner appeal is progressing well, however we still have a long way to go so we can have this fantastic new scanner for our hospital.

I was briefly back to London midweek to attend an important meeting on University Technical Colleges. We discussed the important need to support vocational education and not just focus on classic academic education. We must address this problem to fill the skills gap and help the economy and we discussed ways to move forward to change this.

I was then able to speak alongside my colleague, Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills, and two apprentices at the Liberal Democrat Party Meeting for Lords and Baronesses. It was intended to spread the message about apprenticeships through stories from individuals. It was a great discussion and I am delighted with the outcome. A lot of the peers have signed up to swapping days with apprentices and are carrying out great work to publicise the positive message about apprenticeships. It is great to see both houses endorsing this important issue.

I was then back to Burnley again for some time out and about in Lanehead and Hapton. It was a good opportunity to see familiar faces and meet some new one. Friday was busy with constituent appointments in the office; and Saturday’s advice stall outside M&S in Burnley town centre was very busy again.