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Emma Hardy, the MP for Hull West and Hessle, welcomes apprenticeship week with visits to Hull Training and ARCO to talk with apprenticeships.

During the visits, which took place on Thursday 8th March 2018, Emma met with and talked to some of the apprentices at the two organisations and learnt about their experiences as apprentices.

National Apprenticeship Week, introduced by the last Labour Government and now in its eleventh year, was set up to celebrate the successes of apprenticeships nationwide, the life chances they give and the work of those colleges, employers and providers delivering them.

Yet in the midst of celebrating apprenticeships comes the challenge of protecting the aspirations of our young people amidst a changing apprenticeship climate. The latest Government apprenticeship starts figures show there were just 27,000 apprenticeship starts last November, 40% fewer than in 2016. This follows the pattern we have seen since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April where take-up by young people and employers is decreasing.

On top of this, the scandal around Learndirect- as highlighted by the stinging report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee- and the collapse of Carillion have left thousands of apprentices without employment temporarily, and unable to continue their learning.

Labour has pledged to look at ways to make it easier for our apprentices, including finding a solution to the extortionate travel costs many of them face just getting to work and Emma raised a question in the House of Commons relating to the financial difficulties that apprentices in Hull West and Hessle face.

In addition, Labour’s pledge to roll out a National Education Service is based on the principle that people from all backgrounds both young and older have the opportunity to grasp one of the life-changing quality apprenticeships that must be at the heart of our future skills base in the 2020s.

Commenting after the visits, Emma said “It was a pleasure to meet with the apprentices at both Hull Training and ARCO. When they are done right, apprenticeships are really beneficial to young people as a way of improving life chances and gaining skills and experience and moving into the world of work. National Apprenticeship Week celebrates all that is good about apprenticeships and I’m proud that it was a Labour Government that started it.”

“But current Conservative Government policies are putting all that is good about apprenticeships at risk. All too often, there is little to no progression from Level 2 apprenticeships to the higher skilled Level 3 and 4 apprenticeships and apprenticeship contracts are used to undercut wages. The take up rate of apprenticeships is also being put at risk with the Government’s apprenticeship levy meaning that only half the number of apprenticeships created since 2016 have been filled. Constituents should rest assured that I will do everything I can to push the government to reverse these trends and return apprenticeships to what we know they can be- real opportunities that can change young people’s lives for the better.”

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