Skills and apprenticeships are something I have been passionate about since my very first day as an MP. In fact, in my first speech in the House of Commons, I argued that we needed to change the way that we view apprenticeships so that they are held in the same regard as going to University. I strongly believe that we must transform the nature of vocational training and apprenticeships in our country to give young people the necessary skills and training to open up opportunities and jobs for their futures.
I am incredibly proud of the Government’s record on this already – creating over 2 million new apprenticeships since 2010, abolishing employers’ National Insurance contributions for apprenticeships under 25, and introducing an Apprenticeship Levy so that the largest companies will support the training of our next generation.
In my constituency, I have seen the success of vocational education and apprenticeships first hand. I worked hard to get our state of the art University Technical College opened which now provides high-skilled vocational training to young people aged 14-19, specialising in computing, science and engineering. Harlow College also have a fantastic apprenticeships school which has opened up thousands of opportunities for young people in our town.
During my time in Parliament, I have worked hard to champion apprenticeships there too. I was the first ever MP to have a full-time apprentice working in Parliament, and I am delighted to be currently hiring my fourth. After hiring my first apprentice, I set up the Parliamentary Academy Scheme which places apprenticeships in the offices of MPs from all Political Parties. It has been a great success.
I was honoured to have been appointed as Minister of State for Higher Education, Skills, Apprenticeships and Careers in the Department of Education by our new Prime Minister, Theresa May from 2016 – 2017.
My responsibilities there included:
- Careers education and guidance in schools
- Apprenticeships (including arrangements for the introduction of the apprenticeships levy)
- Funding for post-16 provision (including financial support for young people and adult learners)
- Further education colleges, sixth-form colleges and local patterns of provision (including area reviews and city deals)