Yesterday I was pleased to meet several apprentices to mark national apprenticeship week. An apprenticeship is a great way to learn the skills for a job and to gain a respected qualification.
I’m grateful to the City Council and On-Site Bristol (http://onsitebristol.co.uk/apprenticeships.php ) for arranging my visits. I remember supporting the creation of On Site back in the mid 1990s when I was the councillor for the city centre, with its purpose being to help local people take advantage of the large number of job opportunities arising from the developments around Harbourside, Temple Meads and what is now Cabot Circus. It has had great success in training and placing hundreds of people from greater Bristol in good jobs.
The first part of the visit was to the City Council’s Contract Services workshop in St Judes. There I met about 20 apprentices being trained in carpentry, joinery, plumbing, plastering and administration. Then we went onto a building site in Barton Hill where I met more apprentices in carpentry and brick laying. I also met the local coordinator of a scheme to train ex-servicemen after their discharge from the armed services.
While they were all now feeling fulfilled with their careers, many of them felt that they could have been better advised and prepared for their future while at school. In the last Parliament I was the Lib Dem shadow minister for universities and skills and spoke many times about the need to improve information, advice and guidance, preferably from age 13 onwards. The new government does intend to reform this area and is investing in the creation of thousands of extra apprentice places, giving help for employers to meet the training costs.
More information on apprentice week can be found at http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/Awards/Apprenticeship-Week-2011.aspx