Karin Smyth MP slams Tory decision to vote against Labour’s amendments to the Skills Bill as support for young people falls

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, slams the Tory Government as they voted against Labour amendments to the Skills Bill currently going through Parliament, denying young people in Bristol the support of professional career advisors.

After a decade of Conservative Governments, the state of skills and further education in the UK is in a concerning position.  40% of young people are leaving education without level 3 (A-level/BTEC) qualifications which are essential for young people to prosper in the modern economy.  Apprenticeship starts have also fallen 38% across the UK in the last decade, and in Bristol South the number of apprenticeship starts has fallen from 1,250 in 2011/12 to 750 in 2020/21.

The Conservatives have no plan to reverse this decline in skills and further education. The Chancellor’s last budget restored funding to only 60% of the level it was in 2010, leaving around a £750m gap according to the Learning and Work Institute.  This has contributed to a skills shortage which began well before the Covid pandemic, which is hitting young people particularly hard. 

At the Labour Party Conference in 2021, Sir Keir Starmer announced Labour’s plan to ensure every young person leaves education ready for work and ready for life, by teaching the digital skills they need, providing the careers advice they deserve and delivering work experience for everyone.

Karin Smyth has long campaigned for and promoted apprenticeships in the constituency. By holding annual apprenticeship fairs and joining up with Further Education colleges and employers she has ensured that action is taken locally where the national government fails. She will continue this work with the annual apprenticeship fair returning in 2022. Details to be announced soon.


Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said: 

“Further education, be it A-levels, BTECs or an apprenticeship, are vital in order for young people to gain the skills they need to be future-ready and to kick start their careers, but following a decade under Tory Governments too many young people are leaving education without the skills or qualifications they need to prosper. 

“Labour has a plan to support young people’s futures and ensure they are ready for work and life when they leave education.  From recruiting over a thousand new careers advisors for schools, maintaining the laptops provided to schools during the pandemic, and at least two weeks’ worth of work experience for every young person, Labour’s plans will help guide and inform them on their future study and career choices. 

“We also need to deliver the skills our country needs for the future through increasing the number of Apprenticeship schemes.  Apprenticeships should be the gold standard in training opportunities, offering people a way to earn while they learn, but are in decline after a dozen years of Conservative rule.

“We want our young people to build a high-wage high-skill economy where we buy, make and sell more here in Britain, so we can deliver the security, prosperity and respect people in Bristol South need and deserve.”