Under this government Britain has seen 2 million more apprentices since 2010. The Prime Minister has pledged to create an additional million apprenticeships (so 3 million in total) in the next Parliament and so abolish youth unemployment.
In Gloucestershire, to make sure we achieve that, we will need to create apprenticeships in areas that don’t yet exist. Vocational courses and training to help bridge skills gaps that already exist are the way forward.
For example the Uni of Glos and Emma Willis have already teamed up to proves a shirt sewing element of their fashion course, which will be relevant to Gloucester’s other shirt maker Turnbull & Asser and I hope will lure other shirt makers to Gloucester.
Now we need a specialist course for electroplaters in the coatings sector, which require a strong knowledge of chemistry: and the same for HGV drivers in the haulage sector. There are ideas coming forward for both these and I hope the new Growth Hub and the LEP will look closely at such specialist courses.
I raised this directly with the Chancellor last week:
“This Government’s support for apprenticeships has hugely helped the 40% drop in youth unemployment in Gloucester. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government will continue to look constructively at new and innovative vocational schemes in sectors where there are jobs available—such as HGV drivers, haulage companies, and electroplaters for the Poeton company—but a shortage of skills at the moment?”
The Chancellor remembered immediately his visit with me to Gloucestershire Engineering Training (GET) and gave an encouraging response:
Mr Osborne: I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) has worked with local employers to improve skills, and I visited a successful apprenticeship and training scheme with him. We want to ensure that local employers are involved in shaping those apprenticeships and further education courses, and that is precisely what we are now setting up.
I hope this encourages both coatings and haulage companies to take their ideas forwards and I will support them. Other companies with similar skills gaps can follow suit.
Katie Alleyne of Prompt Transport said, ‘I believe it’s time the haulage sector got together in the Bristol/Glos region to create a vocational course that delivers good HGV drivers with a strong understanding of European laws on the road etc so that we don’t have this current shortage of British drivers and end up recruiting from Continental Europe’
Nick Day of Downton Group, Gloucestershire’s largest haulage operator said ‘it is quite true that there is a shortage of drivers with an HGV qualification and we are going to have to train them; if the industry comes up with a good course we all like and the government pays for the training – like GET for engineering – this has for to be the right way forward’
David Owen GFirst and LEP: ‘skills is at the heart of the LEP and our Growth Hub agenda,mans we will looks closely at all good ideas for supporting projects that develop skills across the county’