Apprenticeships will allow us to compete

View From The House by Andrew Selous, MP for South West Beds...

For the first time in around 30 years the United Kingdom is now exporting more cars than it imports. In 2012 the UK produced 1.58m vehicles and 2.5m engines. Vehicle production has also forecast to rise above 2 million by 2017.

In Bedfordshire Vauxhall have a long and proud history and continue to make the Vivaro van in Luton. In addition Nissan have around 950 research and development jobs in Bedfordshire and this was the team which helped launch the Nissan Qashqai.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Joe Greenwell the former boss of both Ford UK and Jaguar Land Rover has said that the Government’s decision to reduce corporation tax, boost credits for research and development and increase the investment allowance which businesses can use was all helping bring further investment in the motor industry to the United Kingdom.

One significant challenge is to increase the amount of content of cars made in the UK as it is too low compared with other countries like Germany. The work of companies like GTI Corporation in Houghton Regis which makes window seals for Bentley and other prestige makes is extremely important in this regard.

If the UK is going to continue to compete and have success internationally in the motor industry and in advanced manufacturing then companies like BE Aerospace in Leighton Buzzard and Honeytop Specialty Foods in Dunstable will need more technicians who have level 3 or level 4 qualifications.

Whilst we have graduate unemployment the number of unfilled technician vacancies has increased from 60,000 to 143,000.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We need many more schools, further education colleges and university technical colleges supplying these qualifications. I am aware that the University of Bedfordshire does a lot of vocational higher education and has lower levels of graduate unemployment than many other universities.

I welcome the technical training that many of our upper schools undertake and also that undertaken by Central Bedfordshire College and Central Bedfordshire University Technical College.

Many young people are realising that they can start an apprenticeship and go on to university with their employer paying for them to go through university thus avoiding the need for tuition fee loans. We have had a massive boost in the numbers undertaking apprenticeships (in the South West Bedfordshire constituency the numbers have increased to 870 over the last year).

Countries like Austria, the Netherlands and Germany which have high levels of young people on vocational courses have much lower youth unemployment and the United Kingdom needs to follow suit. 90% of children who go to a university technical college like Central Bedfordshire UTC achieve a level 2 technical qualification by the age of 16 compared with around 15% of pupils at other schools and colleges. This is one of the reasons why we are so fortunate to have a university technical college in Houghton Regis.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The numbers undertaking both intermediate and advanced apprenticeships are still too low and need to increase significantly to enable us to compete. Young people undertaking this course of action can look forward to being highly sought after in the jobs market. The Managing Director of BE Aerospace in Leighton Buzzard started as an apprentice.

Contact Andrew Selous at [email protected]