Earlier this year I held an Apprenticeship Fair at the Parr Hall.
We had 40 organisations from Warrington and the surrounding area offering a variety of positions from hairdressing to engineering and around 300 people came through the doors over the course.
10 years ago many young people saw apprenticeships as a fallback option in case they didn’t get into higher or further education, but now many see them as being equal alternatives.
Indeed the application process for places at some of the most prestigious companies is every bit as competitive as for some of the top universities.
Whilst getting a degree is prestigious, more and more graduates are finding that their degree is no guarantee of good future employment. Our economy continues to churn out arts graduates when, what our economy is crying out for is graduates in science or engineering.
This is part of the reason why apprenticeships are coming back into fashion.
Instead of spending 3 or more years racking up debts, apprentices earn a wage.
As well as learning job-specific skills, apprentices also learn a whole range of “soft skills” which employers value – such as teamwork, leadership and presentation.
Although they don’t emerge with a degree, apprentices gain a qualification and, crucially, they very often end up landing a permanent job at the company that trained them.
So it’s no surprise that 80,000 people in the North West started an apprenticeship last year with over half a million apprenticeships in the region since 2010.
As Britain prepares to leave the European Union we need a skilled workforce more than ever, to take advantages of the new challenges and opportunities which will arise. An increase in the number of people taking on apprenticeships is welcome and I’m going to do what I can to keep promoting them.
I’d like to thank all those companies who exhibited at the Fair. In particular, I’d like to thank Sellafield Ltd, Ombudsman Services and United Utilities who all sponsored the event and helped to make it a success.