In recent days the Prime Minister, Theresa May, visited my Reading West constituency to formally open the new UK headquarters of international technology company Thales at Green Park. During her visit she, and I, had an opportunity to meet several really bright and able apprentices employed by Thales.
These apprentices are a very visible success of the Government’s policy over the last eight years of promoting apprenticeships and the excellent partnership between employers and Government. Apprenticeships can give young people the opportunity to learn a valuable skill while earning at the same time. They can raise the productivity of the businesses they join and I have always been proud to support them.
The Government has also established industry designed degree-level apprenticeships which bring together the very best of higher and vocational education, and allow apprentices to achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree whilst training on the job in areas such as chartered surveying, aerospace engineering and nuclear engineering. Apprenticeships are part of the Government’s wider strategy to transform technical education, and we are working with industry to deliver a technical education system that will provide young people with a credible alternative to university.
T-Levels, which are being developed in partnership with industry professionals such as EDF, Rolls Royce and Fujitsu, will be level 3 qualifications comparable with A-Levels. The Government is investing £50 million in high quality work places, which are a key component of every T Level, helping prepare young people for skilled work. Overall, the Government’s technical education reforms aim to provide young people with the skills businesses tell us they need.
This week is National Apprenticeship Week and since 2010 there have been around 3.5 million apprenticeships starts in England, with around 7,000 of those in my own constituency.
For many young people today, apprenticeships are a very real alternative to going straight to university after school. As already mentioned, some apprenticeships offer a practical path leading to a university degree. So I am looking forward in the coming days to visiting further local companies in Reading employing apprentices and celebrating their success.