Filling the country’s skills gap

Burnley College and Themis apprentices receive their awards
Burnley College and Themis apprentices receive their awards

I recently began my week with meetings in Westminster; first with INEOS, the biggest chemical manufacturer in the country. We discussed their future plans to train young people and fill current skills gaps in the industry.

I then had an update from two colleagues at the National Apprenticeship Service, who were happy with the progress we have made on apprenticeships. We discussed ways we could continue to promote apprenticeships on a national scale.

I have been contacted by a number of constituents keen to “get Britain cycling”. As a former triathlete, I am very eager to see nationwide commitment to cycling. I was pleased to attend the debate and listen to the Government’s announcement to improve cycling in the UK.

On the Wednesday I met Cuadrilla to talk about fracking in Lancashire. They have discovered shale oil 2km thick underground which will provide enough gas for the UK for the next 50 years.

In the afternoon I met with MAI apprentice of the year for the North West Bradley Hodgeson and BAE systems technical apprentice Andy Fowler. I introduced them to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who addressed a room full of employers and apprentices and held a question-and-answer session with them.

The day was topped off with a visit to Family Mosaic, a housing association in South London. They have led by example helping people into apprenticeships and running back-to-work schemes to help those who need a confidence boost or support to find jobs in the area.

On my return to Burnley, I was pleased to visit Towneley Golf Club, which has received £45,000 from Sport England to develop parts of the course; namely a new practice putting green and practice driving range. They hope this will attract more young people to the sport.

Thursday evening was a highlight for me as Burnley College hosted the Themis Inspire and Achieve Awards event. Apprentices working in various industries were presented with awards and it was heart-warming to see them at the beginning of their careers as I have fond memories from when I started out as an apprentice.

Friday was my birthday and a busy one at that! I started the day with an employer apprenticeship event run by Burnley Council. I then met the Chief Executive, Steve Rumbelow, to discuss major events in Burnley such as delivering growth and prosperity. In the afternoon I had my appointment surgeries as usual and a birthday lunch with the lovely constituency staff who work really hard to support me in my work.

Finally, I was interviewed by local media about the wonderful award Burnley recently received, Most Enterprising Area 2013. It was really satisfying talking about issues which three years ago had been deemed unachievable.

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