The Pigeon – March 2021

As many of you will know, post-16 education has long been a focus for me.  I’m passionate about ensuring that young people are able to access the training and qualifications they need to go on and secure quality and fulfilling jobs.

The pandemic has hit young people incredibly hard, and we know that we will all be living with the financial effects for many years to come.  However, although there has been plenty of coverage of the problems faced by university and secondary school students, as is so often the case there has been much less emphasis on those students undertaking vocational training or apprenticeships. 

 As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, I’ve been highlighting the importance of Government support for quality apprenticeships, and I’m pressing Ministers to ensure that all levels of apprenticeships are protected.  Supporting apprenticeships isn’t just the right thing to do – it also makes economic sense.  As our economy begins to recover from Covid-19 we will need proper investment in skills at all levels and for all ages, to help support our local communities to achieve their potential.

That’s why I’m delighted that next month I’ll be jointly hosting the fifth All About Jobs and Apprenticeships event with City of Bristol College.  Although we can’t gather in person, we’ll be running a series of online events designed to help inform young people about their options and help them think about their potential next steps.  We’ll bring together some of the area’s biggest employers, training providers and other organisations which support people into work and apprenticeships. 

I know that the past twelve months have been incredibly difficult for us all, and there are still tricky times to come as we move out of lockdown and start to look beyond the pandemic.  But I also know that many of us – and particularly young people –  want to seize the opportunity to make a fresh start and give serious thought to the future.  

Quality apprenticeships are a great way to earn while you learn – combining paid work experience with vital classroom-based learning – and can lead to degree level qualifications. I’ve spoken to many apprentices over the years at my apprenticeship fairs, each speaking very highly of the scheme they’re on and the path it’s led them down.  I would urge anyone who is considering an apprenticeship – or indeed, who needs some inspiration for their next steps – to come along and find out more about the opportunities available.