Weekly Round-Up :: 10 February 2023

The scenes coming out of Syria and Turkey this week will have horrified me and you. Seeing the survivors among the rubble and the grief of those who have lost someone has been awful. The images will remain with me for a long time. The DEC have launched their Turkey Syria Appeal. If you are able to, please donate here.

This week is National Apprenticeship Week – a very important week for me and what should be an important week for this Government. But in Bristol South, apprenticeship starts have fallen by a shocking 27% since the Tories gained power. With the cost of living crisis really starting to bite an apprenticeship is a really valuable way of learning new skills and gaining experience in your chosen career whilst also being paid for your work. They can bring huge benefits to individuals in broadening career options and building knowledge, but also to help businesses develop a workforce with the skills needed for the future. They are also a fantastic opportunity for older people to reskill and change their careers. We should be embracing the interest that there is in apprenticeships, supporting people to connect with employers, and provide employers with the resources that will allow them to take on apprenticeships.

Labour leader Keir Starmer spoke about the importance of apprenticeships this week and vowed to create a new body to increase the skills of the British workforce and to boost apprenticeships. The Government’s current levy system is failing to provide enough skilled workers for 40,000 manufacturers. Apprenticeships lead to well-paid and highly-skilled roles in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) branches which will help to boost the UK’s capacity as well as supporting the local economies across the country. We have so much talent in the UK across the regions and currently the Tories are squandering that talent. Keir Starmer visited Airbus’ new STEM Academy in Filton and spoke to the many apprentices there about their experiences and how they are developing new skills that will give them the opportunities to build a good life for themselves and their families.

As many of you will have already heard, on Thursday 23rd February, I’ll be co-hosting a Jobs and Apprenticeships Fair with City of Bristol College at the South Bristol Skills Academy. Please do pop along to find out more about apprenticeships and the varied roles available with over 50 different employers. Among those there will be Boomsatsuma, Multiverse, HMRC, St Mungos, The Royal Navy, Bristol Airport, and The British Heart Foundation. For more information, visit the website here.

As part of my work on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee, we visited Brussels to see how colleagues in the EU undertake their work. This is a vital part of a committees work as learning from others allows us to improve our ability to hold government to account. This visit focused particularly on how the UK and other nations/trading blocks scrutinise international treaties. In our discussions with EU Parliamentarians and officials we were able to gain a new outlook on their scrutiny procedures. This has never been so important for the UK as now we have left the EU we must be able to hold our government to account on treaties. It’s become clear that they wish to hide from scrutiny so we must enforce your parliament’s rights to scrutinise their actions.

Volodomyr Zelensky addressed both Houses of Parliament this week and spoke about Russia’s war on Ukraine, the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people, and the support that they need from the West. We in Britain have always stood against aggressive tyranny; that’s why when Labour was in government in the post-war era, we created the North Atlantic alliance and helped found NATO. Today, the Labour Party’s commitment to NATO under Keir Starmer is as strong now as it was then; cooperation in the politico-military sphere is vital for safeguarding the security of all members. We must support Ukraine in any way we can to fight off the tyrannical threats from their larger neighbour and to isolate Russia so that it does not prevail in its aggressive actions. If they succeed in Ukraine, where do they go next? Putin will not stop. Zelensky is an inspirational figure and speaker; it has been remarkable to watch him begin his presidency as the former comedic actor to become this formidable leader whose resilience and leadership of his country has been incredibly brave and tireless. I stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. Mi z toboyu. We are with you. Slava Ukraini!

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.