I had a positive and interesting meeting with Fujistsu who have received £800m of funding from Japan in the UK.
Fujistu’s investment will help support UK business and continue to support SME supply chains and research and development facilities. Incredibly, Fujitsu have taken on 580 young people as apprentices or graduates under the age of 25 over the past year and have lowered the bar for entrance requirements to access a larger talent pool of young people. This is absolute fantastic news and is providing youngsters with the opportunity to work for a well-regarded and established company. I continue to be amazed at the commitment of many companies in recruiting apprentices. There is still a long way to go, but I am determined for apprenticeships to get the recognition they deserve.
On Tuesday I had a great meeting with BIMM, an independent provider of higher education who offer degree courses in modern music. We discussed unpaid internships in the music industry and how important it was that record labels take on young people and pay them a decent wage. I was then in the Chamber for the Children and Families debate. It was extremely interesting listening to some of the proposed amendments which include an amendment that would require schools to provide the right care and support for children with health conditions like Type 1 Diabetes. The Government must ensure children and families get the support they need, when they need it most.
On Wednesday I had a fascinating chat with the CITB Construction Skills. The construction industry is slanted towards micro and SME level businesses and encourage apprenticeships. Currently, they have 5,500 apprentices and offer apprenticeships which last, on average, 36 months.
The construction industry is important to the economy as a driver of growth and such great numbers of apprentices is good news for the workforce of the future. I had an interesting meeting with the British Poultry Council who employ over 50,000 people but are facing an ageing workforce. They are recruiting apprentices but struggling with the perception young people have about the food industry. The poultry industry is a £4 billion industry and should not be undervalued.
On Thursday in the Chamber it was questions for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. I was interested to hear what the Secretary of State had to say and there were questions on a range of issues including exports, medical and education research and support provided for female entrepreneurs. I also saw the Queen at the Trooping the Colour Parade and it was marvellous with plenty of people and colour. I like to see the patriotism in our capital city at such events.