Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    On Tuesday 13th January 2015, the Government’s Apprenticeships Ambassador, Gordon Birtwistle, and Peter Lilley MP will attend the official launch of a path-breaking new apprenticeship scheme at The Construction Skills Academy in Hitchin. The Academy, launched last year, offers young people free training, tools and equipment and, above all, a guaranteed career in construction.  After Peter Lilley MP brought the Academy and North Herts College together they have collaborated to upgrade the course to an apprenticeship leading to a recognized National Vocational Qualification.

    Ahead of Tuesday’s event, Peter said: “I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the Construction Academy since I visited it in the summer and spoke to some of the first young people to complete the course. They explained that what made it so attractive was the guarantee of a job at the end. I am delighted to have played a part in bringing together the Academy and North Herts College which is also in the forefront of the revival of apprenticeships in Britain. Their collaboration will make the course even more attractive as it becomes a recognised apprenticeship culminating in an NVQ. This pioneering academy simultaneously addresses the skills shortage in the construction sector, while providing young people in Hitchin and Harpenden with jobs and recognised skills. Some 240 young people – most of them previously unemployed – should join this scheme over the coming year.”

    “I believe this unique combination of an apprenticeship leading to a guaranteed job could be replicated in other areas and industries. So I am delighted that the government’s Apprenticeship Ambassador has agreed to come to the launch next week”.

    Revealing that he had done an apprenticeship in aluminium technology in France when he left school, Peter said: “After decades of neglecting apprenticeships in the UK, they are now a key government priority. Schools and colleges, and employers, must work together to convince parents that a good apprenticeship or vocational course can be as prestigious a basis for a future career as going to university.”

    Gordon Birtwistle MP, Government Apprenticeship Ambassador to Business said, “I am really looking forward to visiting The Construction Academy next week in Hitchin. I have heard a lot about the fantastic opportunities offered by the academy to young people. I was an apprentice myself when I left school so I know how important it can be in giving young people a career. As the Government’s Apprenticeship Ambassador, I am delighted that we have achieved two million apprenticeships in the last Parliament. We must continue to deliver more high quality apprenticeships in order to close the widening skills gap and balance the economy."

    Simon Harvey, Director of the Construction Skills Academy said: “We believe the future is about investing in young people. In the five months up to Christmas, The Academy took 40 young people off Job Seekers Allowance, trained them and gave them a PAYE based career through the Academy’s commercial partner The Grays Group. The introduction of the Apprenticeships and NVQ through North Herts College is great news for the Academy, our partners, NHC and, most importantly, for young people in the Hertfordshire and Greater London area.” 

    Carrie Smith, Vice Principal of North Herts College said, “We are delighted to be working with The Construction Skills Academy and The Grays Group in such a way that will grow apprenticeship and employment opportunities in North Herts. This collaboration will help us to continue developing the skills of local residents and supporting local businesses to meet their recruitment needs. A true partnership.”

    Find out more about the Construction Skills Academy: