Apprenticeships are there for people from all walks of life enabling them to learn skills for the workplace of their choosing, earn a wage, and get on in life. Last week was National Apprenticeship Week which was a great opportunity for companies to learn how apprenticeships can work for them. I spent last Friday visiting businesses in Hastings to hear how apprentices have helped their employers while also gaining a valuable step onto the career ladder.
Our towns of Hastings and Rye have fully taken advantage of the benefits of hiring apprentices, with 860 new apprentices starting in 2016/2017. This figure is double what it was in 2009/2010, and it is clear this Government is backing apprenticeships because they work for people, the wider economy and help develop social mobility.
It is fantastic that so many people in our towns are choosing to learn skills for the workplace in a hands-on capacity which follows on from the Government commitment in 2015 to create 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. It is particularly encouraging to see that women made up 54% of apprenticeship starts last year and that the amount of apprenticeship starters from our BAME communities has doubled since 2010.
Looking locally, it is clear that apprenticeships have helped our towns’ businesses as well as our community. Last week, I visited Marshall Tufflex, Hastings Works, and General Dynamics to see how they were marking National Apprenticeship Week and how their apprentices are getting on. It was a pleasure to meet with apprentices at Marshall Tufflex and present a certificate to Josh Hayler. It was really encouraging to hear the passion and enthusiasm they had for their work, and see the value they are adding to their companies.
I was also delighted to visit General Dynamics again and meet some of their 275 strong workforce in Hastings. General Dynamics offer two apprenticeship programmes in manufacturing which provide apprentices with key skills to kick start their careers. The apprentices are mentored by senior engineers and I was impressed by their work ethic and determination to make the most of their opportunities.
I was encouraged by how hard-working our town’s apprentices are, and was particularly interested to hear how they plan to turn their apprenticeships into fulfilling careers.
I was pleased to support National Apprenticeship Week and meet our local employers who are contributing to our local economy through apprenticeships – showing that they work for individuals, employers and our economy.