Local businesses get thumbs up from Government’s apprentice champion

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The Government Apprenticeship Ambassador to Business has paid tribute to Hampshire businesses after recent figures revealed that over 30,800 young people have started an apprenticeship in the county since 2010.

The Government’s Ambassador Gordon Birtwistle MP was in Eastleigh recently to help county MP Mike Thornton launch a brand new apprentice challenge, aimed at boosting local apprenticeships in the coming months.

During the visit the former craft engineering apprentice Gordon Birtwistle MP joined Mike Thornton to visit two major employers in the area, Prysmian Cables and Arlington Rail in Eastleigh, to learn more about their apprentice programmes.

Mr Thornton and Mr Birtwistle got the chance to meet and chat with local apprentices about their experiences. The two MPs also met local youngsters training, on a visit to Quilley School of Engineering.   

Government Ambassador Gordon Birtwistle MP said: 

"It has been great to come here today and see all the wonderful apprentices and hear their positive stories.  The companies’ commitment to apprentices illustrates how much importance local employers are placing on apprenticeships to boost the economic recovery and bridge the skills gap. Apprentices make a positive difference and offer real benefits to the region’s employers, young people and the local economy as a whole. 

"Everyone I speak to in my role as Government Ambassador agrees that apprentices add real value, and I want to encourage more employers to think about taking one on. I passionately believe in the value of apprenticeships and will continue to work hard to raise the profile of apprenticeships across the country", the MP added.

Prysmian_factory_floor_web.JPGCommenting on Gordon Birtwistle’s visit, Eastleigh MP Mike Thornton said:

"These visits provided a fantastic opportunity for both me and Gordon to hear first-hand from apprentices and employers on the challenges they face to get apprenticeships going, and the huge benefits they can provide for young people and businesses.

"Companies like Prysmian, GE Aviation and Arlington are doing a fantastic job at promoting apprenticeships in our area – I want to see more Hampshire companies follow their lead and take on eager to learn apprentices. Over the next few months I’ll be visiting schools, colleges and local businesses of all sizes, to listen to their concerns, spread the word about the value of apprenticeships, and challenge our local businesses to step up and take on more apprentices. 

"The record rise in local apprenticeships since 2010 shows the Liberal Democrats in Government are making sure we invest in the right thing. It’s a fantastic step forward for a stronger economy, and a fairer society, but we can and must do more, and build on the great work that our schools and colleges do. 

"There are some superb local examples of job boosts, with over 100 people already working on the hotel at the Ageas Bowl, GE Aviation’s recent £32 million Airbus contract that will secure more apprentices and safeguard 850 jobs, and the number claiming Job Seekers Allowance in Eastleigh down 11% over the last year. 

"Apprenticeships are absolutely vital to maintaining this momentum, and the kind of commitment that we see today from government in boosting apprentices is a great sign for the future."

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