MP Nicky Morgan: Investing in skills for the future
Today is the end of National Apprenticeship Week. At the start of the week, the Prime Minister set out his vision for it to become the new norm for young people to either go to university or start an apprenticeship.
Across Loughborough, 760 people started apprenticeships in the academic year 2011-12 and another 270 have started in the first quarter of this academic year. This is a 100 per cent increase compared with the previous Government's last year in office.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research has released a forecast that apprenticeships completed over the next decade could contribute productivity gains worth up to £3.4 billion a year to the economy by 2022.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the Apprenticeship Breakfast, at Loughborough College, then meeting apprentices at Mountsorrel business, Mulberry Square.
In the next few weeks, I will be meeting apprentices working at Brush, in Loughborough, and a few months ago I met some brilliant apprentices at Halfords Autocentre, in my constituency.
This Government is investing in apprenticeships to ensure the country has the skills it needs to compete in the world. National Apprenticeship Week has provided a great opportunity to celebrate the positive impact that apprenticeships have on individuals, businesses and the economy.
I also used International Women's Day last week to organise a careers event with a difference. I wanted to highlight those industrial sectors which do not yet have enough female employees working in them – I chose manufacturing, quarrying and mining and the construction sectors.
Students and careers advisers from five Loughborough colleges heard from female executives from Lafarge, William Davis, EEF and Quality Furniture about their careers.
Following their presentations there was then discussion within the group as to how more women might be encouraged to take up careers in industries where they have been traditionally been under-represented.
There was agreement within the group that students are often unaware of the options available to them. I hope we helped the students to think differently about the careers open to them – hearing, in particular, the female quarry manager from Lafarge talking with such passion about her job made me think about how I can help in my role to broaden career horizons.
On Wednesday, there was a very well-attended debate in Westminster Hall on the British Sikh community. There were contributions from MPs from across the house setting out the enormous contribution which Britain's Sikh community makes to our communities – including to Leicester, as outlined by Leicester South MP, Jon Ashworth. Thanks to the Leicester Sikh Alliance for ensuring we were all aware of the debate.
Finally, Liz Kendall MP, Edward Garnier MP and I attended a meeting with the children's heart surgery team at Glenfield Hospital last week.
We had an update about the matters raised with the Independent Reconfiguration Panel when it visited the hospital and how concerns about the original review process remain. Of course, the day before our meeting we heard that the Leeds children's heart surgery campaigners had succeeded in their judicial review application of the decision made to close the Leeds unit.
But it is clear that, as I and Edward Garnier said to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, this week, the process for making the decision to close any unit must not only be fair and transparent, it must be seen to be so and any final configuration must have, as its prime test, whether it will save lives. We will continue to press the case for keeping the children's heart surgery unit at Glenfield open.