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Karen Bradley MP: 100 apprenticeships in 100 days — the challenge in Staffordshire Moorlands

Karen BradleyKaren Bradley is MP for Staffordshire Moorlands. Follow her on Twitter here.

Today is the launch of my campaign to find 100 apprenticeships in 100 days for Staffordshire Moorlands. I’m really excited to be spearheading this local effort with the support of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the Leek Post and Times. I hope I am also setting an example by recruiting an apprentice myself.

The double-whammy benefit of apprenticeships ought to be obvious: they provide a financially efficient way of bringing enthusiastic people into work, and offer young apprentices personal and career development as they learn a trade. Research shows that apprenticeships provide companies with loyal, skilled staff who stay with them longer, and the NAS estimates that apprentices earn £100,000 more over their careers than comparable job starters.

So my campaign aims to reinforce these positive messages, in particular to local employers which, in the Moorlands — where 80% of those in employment work in the private sector — means mostly small and medium size businesses. The increased Government support of £1,500 available through the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers could be just what’s required to encourage them to take on an apprentice. I’ve been really encouraged by the interest so far — from engineers to traditional dry-stone wallers.

There have been previous such campaigns across the country in the last two years and they have all been run differently, but with the same cooperative principle: bringing colleges, local authorities and a local newspaper together to promote apprenticeships with local business can make a real difference.

There’s an important political issue here. This is a positive policy that makes a real difference to economic growth and training. Like many Coalition Government policies — I’d include the Youth Contract and reforms to the benefits system, both of which I've looked at in detail in my role on the Work and Pensions Select Committee — it should get more coverage and more credit. John Hayes at BIS is doing a great job in developing and pushing the policy, and the Treasury is backing it. Like most Government work, it’s not glamorous and it requires hard work to succeed, in this case hard work with a local focus. It also requires people to work together — when we cooperate we succeed. That goes for the Coalition at all levels.


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