South Bristol businesses asked to help shape apprenticeships

PMQ 9 March 2016Labour MP offers constructive support to government over target

In National Apprenticeship Week, a Bristol MP is asking small and medium-sized businesses in her constituency to play their part in shaping future training and skills opportunities in the city.

Karin Smyth (Bristol South) has followed up her House of Commons challenges last week to the Prime Minister and Skills Minister by this week issuing an open call to small and medium enterprises to set out their ambitions for the shape of apprenticeship schemes over the next decade. She wants them to write to her outlining the challenges they feel they currently face in offering quality training, and to offer their own vision for the way apprenticeship schemes should operate to most usefully assist local firms in the future.

And the Labour MP is shunning party politicking on the issue, having written to David Cameron this week expressing her strong support for the government’s ambitious target of three million apprenticeships by 2020, and offering to play her full part in delivering the pledge so that people in her constituency benefit.

“Whilst south Bristol isn’t home to a huge number of large companies – the type that might traditionally be seen as well placed to take on apprentices – there are very many small and medium-sized firms based here, owned by and employing local residents,” she said.

“Over recent months I’ve met lots of these business owners and staff who are keen to play their part in offering training and apprenticeship opportunities.

“Like me they hear the pledge for three million apprenticeships by 2020, they welcome it, and they are keen to get involved, but many of them are unclear about how to go about it, and how best to equip their own firms with the tools to ensure they can offer good quality training openings that meets local need.

“Many of them have views about how the government’s apprenticeship levy on large businesses can best be made to work in practice so the money raised can be invested wisely to assist local firms in providing training and apprenticeships.”

Publication of detailed plan must be accelerated

Karin Smyth MPHaving quizzed the government over the detail of its delivery plan, Karin Smyth has written to the Prime Minister assuring him of her strong support for the three million ambition. “I am committed to playing a most constructive role in helping the government achieve its target, and in ensuring Bristol South gets its share of new high quality apprenticeships,” she writes.

But she asks Mr Cameron to push ahead with the action plan, urging him “to accelerate the publication of the action plan in order than I can work in Bristol South alongside employers, colleges and other training providers to promote and encourage full engagement.”

She added: “Businesses in Bristol South deserve to know the details so they can ensure they are well-placed to assist.

“It’s clear the government is still forming its action plan so – rather than waiting – I am asking the owners of these businesses, and those who work in them, to let me have their views now, so I can ensure these are fed in to the process of improving the opportunities available in south Bristol.

“I want to know how they feel the government should be shaping these apprenticeships so we can ensure they are of high quality in the years ahead.”

Owners of small and medium-sized businesses in south Bristol – and those who work in them with responsibilities for training and staff development – are invited to give their views by email to or to write to Karin Smyth MP, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.