Anne Milton: We need all MPs to bang the drum for apprenticeships across the country
Anne Milton outlines how four new MP ambassadors will be supporting the government in its drive to increase the quality and quantity of apprenticeships
Learning skills ‘on the job’ has been the golden thread of apprenticeships since the Statute of Apprentices was passed in 1653. In response to changes in the economy at the time, all governments have had to adapt to make sure we have the skilled workforces needed. However, the reforms that we have introduced mean that there has never been a better time to start an apprenticeship in England.
My own mission is to raise awareness of the benefits that an apprenticeship can provide – not just for individuals, but for business.
That is why I’m delighted to announce that four MPs will be joining me in my mission to promote apprenticeships to people of all ages and backgrounds.
We are in the middle of the biggest change in our technical education, and our apprenticeship reforms are at the forefront of this. So I think it is right that we have elected representatives from across the country banging the drum about apprenticeships.
There is a huge focus on skills at the moment, especially as we prepare to leave the European Union. All countries are facing a skills shortage, and we need to make sure we are ahead in gaining the skills we need.
We have already seen some great results. Since 2010, we have created more than 3.4 million apprenticeships. But I want to continue with the progress being made. Raising awareness with business about the opportunities apprenticeships bring, making sure that people consider apprenticeships as an option, and making parents see this as a positive choice for their child are all ways that we can increase uptake.
That’s why I’m delighted to announce that Maria Caulfield, Stephen Metcalfe and Trudy Harrison will be acting as our three new MP Apprenticeship Ambassadors. They will be working in specific regions across the country to champion apprenticeships to employers, young people and wider partners, alongside the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network.
Trudy Harrison will also become Co-Chair of our Apprenticeship Delivery Board, working alongside David Meller and large employers (including Barclays and Fujitsu) to deliver an increase in high-quality apprenticeship starts in the members’ sectors.
I have also appointed Helen Grant to be the new Chair of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network. Helen will look to both grow the Network’s membership, and to build on its early successes in delivering outreach activity to schools and championing the ease of access to disabled apprentices.
Finally, and by no means least, Dominique Unsworth BEM has today been appointed as an SME Ambassador, and will lend support directly to SMEs.
We do not just want to see more apprenticeships. We want quality apprenticeships in more sectors, covering more roles; and we want to help employers see the benefits of apprenticeships. That is exactly what these roles are about. When you hear successful business leaders say, as I have, that they owe the success of their company to their apprentices, you realise that there is an opportunity not to be missed.
All of these people share my drive to promote apprenticeships, and we have a joint vision that will help us to continue to make progress and to make our reforms translate into making a real difference to people’s lives – whoever they are, and wherever they come from.
Anne Milton is Conservative MP for Guildford and Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills