Apprentices quiz MPs on vocational learning

More than two dozen manufacturing apprentices from the West Midlands travelled to London this week to quiz politicians on the skills gap and the importance of vocational learning.

Highlighting the need for continued investment in vocational learning and generating the talent of the future, the visit was arranged by In-Comm Training – which operates training academies in Aldridge and Shrewsbury.

Gareth Jones, managing director, In-Comm Training and Business Services.
Gareth Jones, managing director, In-Comm Training and Business Services.

The company arranged for 25 young people and 20 of their employers to debate the subject with Business Minister Margot James, the hosting MP Wendy Morton and fellow MPs Amanda Milling and Daniel Kawczynski. They were also given a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of Westminster and how the Houses of Parliament operate.

Managing director of In-Comm Training, Gareth Jones explained: “The government has finally woken up to apprenticeships being real jobs and the recent reforms will help engage employers to raise the quality and provide a faster route to competence.

“We want to showcase the talent we are developing in the West Midlands to the people that make decisions and the conversations we had were very positive, building on the introduction of T-Levels in the recent Budget.”

Jones continued: “Raising parity of esteem between apprenticeships and other forms of higher and further education is paramount to making sure we get young people considering this as a viable career path.

“It was also important to express the business viewpoint and we had some fantastic employers join us from professional services and industry.”

In-Comm Training has 35 years’ experience of delivering apprentices and vocational training to companies across the Midlands. Each year, it supports around 400 apprentices across its two academies, with many of its learners going on to hold senior management positions within the companies they train with.

Joining the firm on the visit was Salop Design & Engineering; RMD Kwikform (Interserve); IMI Precision Norgren; GKN Land Systems; Frank Dudley; Made in the Midlands; FBC Manby Bowdler; William Mitchell; B Mason & Son; Bradken, Black Country Chamber of Commerce; Cooke Brothers; Phoenix Tooling; Grainger & Worrall, and Middas.

The 25 young people and their employers debated the subject with Business Minister Margot James - image courtesy of In-Comm Training.
The 25 young people and their employers debated the subject with Business Minister Margot James – image courtesy of In-Comm Training.

CEO of Brandauer, Rowan Crozier, also made the trip. He sais: “We have to start sharing the message of how important apprenticeships are for the British economy; these young people are our future engineers, managers and decision-makers…that’s exactly what this trip did.

“It also highlighted how employers were working with In-Comm to develop their young people. Having a training provider that understands the bigger picture has changed the way we approach apprenticeships and is helping us grow our workforce.”

MP for Aldridge-Brownhills, Wendy Morton commented: “I have always been a big supporter of apprenticeships and the role they play in bridging the skills gap, and there is nothing like hearing from young people about their experiences and their achievements.

“It was also good to hear from businesses about the benefits they enjoy and also the financial commitment they make…without employers willing to invest time and money into apprentices the skills gap would be a lot wider.”