Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Gordon Birtwistle MP Writes: National Apprenticeship Week 2014

It's the week we've all been waiting for: National Apprenticeship Week 2014! This year, it is even more important that we talk about NAW and spread the word #NAW2014. Since 2010, the Liberal Democrats in Government have helped to create an amazing 1.6 million new apprenticeship starts - more than double the number under Labour. As a party, we are extremely dedicated to keeping the number of apprenticeships growing and as Government Apprenticeship Ambassador it is a matter very dear to my heart.

National Apprenticeship Week is focussing on increasing awareness, understanding and demand for apprenticeships, as well as celebrating the achievements of apprentices. I would encourage colleagues to get involved as much as possible and for members to look into the benefits of apprenticeships. We need to spread the word to families and friends about the real opportunities out there to help young people out of work.

Yesterday I began the week with a visit to the BBC. We had a networking event with the BBC Academy apprentices in the morning followed by a talk by Lord Tony Hall, director of the BBC about the importance of hiring apprentices. I gave him my booklet on my journey and lobbied him about making a TV programme called 'The Real Apprentice'. He was intrigued and happy to discuss it further so I am looking forward to getting the ball rolling at last; it would be great exposure for apprentices to be showcased to the nation and for young people to see that the fantastic opportunities out there.

Day 2 of NAW and I have Adam Banks, a third year apprentice at EON UK shadowing me today. We started the day with a discussion on the future of the aerospace industry with representatives from this sector. It provided insight into the crucial importance of aerospace programmes to UK manufacturing. This afternoon I will be meeting Ajit who is running a "Ghost Station Project" with the disused underground stations in London. He is interested in taking on an apprentice and would like some advice. I will then be attending a reception in the afternoon with fellow Apprenticeship Ambassador Andrew Jones MP and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock; it will outline the importance of Apprenticeships in shaping the local and national economy and give insight on the government's commitment to Apprenticeships and Traineeships, as part of our wider growth strategy.

The rest of the week will be busy with apprenticeship-related meetings and events; namely a reception with Nick Clegg for female apprentices. I will be taking along wonderful apprentice, Georgia Callan, from British Airways to tackle the under-representation of women in STEM careers. Finally I will end my NAW in London on Thursday at 10 Downing St, with fabulous apprentice, Nusrat, from my Burnley office who will be accompanying me to meet the Prime Minister.

It has been great to see businesses, politicians, young people and the media talking about this vitally important week and I hope that apprenticeships continue to gain the positive publicity they rightly deserve.

Gordon Birtwistles' "The Apprentice Journey" is available here (via Google Drive).