Over 50 people from local business, education and training worlds gathered to meet Matthew Hancock, the Minister responsible for further education, skills and apprenticeships. Peter Lilley invited the Minister to Hitchin and Harpenden in response to concerns among local businesses about the need to encourage vocational and technical skills.
“The issue that local business people raise with me most frequently is the need to encourage apprenticeships, training and technical skills,” said Peter Lilley. “The great weakness of the British education system compared with our main competitors abroad is a failure to provide the majority of young people who don’t go to university with the chance to acquire vocational and technical skills.” Matthew Hancock emphasised that this is now a key priority of the coalition government.
“There are now more apprenticeships that any year since the 1960s. The number of people enrolled in apprenticeship schemes across Hitchin and Harpenden has more than doubled since 2008 and I hope that this trend will continue.”
In the discussion following the Minister’s talk local educational leaders emphasised the need to convince parents that a good apprenticeship or vocational course can be as prestigious a basis for a future career as going to university. Business people also highlighted the important role of apprenticeships in overcoming the shortage of technical skills in our workforce.