Dan Jeffery, Cabinet member for Education, writes:
I was pleased to attend Southampton’s first apprenticeship awards event on 2ndNovember. This is the culmination of much work to put apprenticeships on a par with academic education. The city is seeing significant investment and economic development, and we need our young people to have the right skills to be able get the jobs that are generated.
It is absolutely right that this physical investment in Southampton is matched by social investment in our people. These may be in the construction industry, these may be in the new developments like Watermark and others. Or, they may be in the burgeoning maritime sector with a huge array of small and medium sized enterprises constantly calling for skilled workers to fill their vacancies.
Since the apprenticeships scrutiny inquiry in 2013, the Council has worked with partners across the city to achieve two main aims 1) to increase the number of apprenticeships and 2) to increase the quality and variety of apprenticeships on offer. We are now seeing the fruits of that inquiry with 2000 apprenticeships in Southampton in 2014/15, up 9.5% on the previous year, including 22 at Southampton City Council. These are in areas ranging from business administration to engineering and manufacturing. We recognise these achievements not just because they will skill up the next generation of workers, but because it is a social good. That is why I’m proud of delivering our manifesto commitment to guarantee every young person leaving the care system an apprenticeship or work experience opportunity.
Academic education is still critical, and I am pleased to see standards steadily rising in our schools and colleges. But it’s absolutely right to point out that when career discussions are had, too often the only route considered is academic, when vocational education is a worthy and important route to follow. Parity of educational pathways matters.
I want this city to prosper and the local people to see the benefits of that prosperity which is why investing in skills, apprenticeships and education together seems the best way to give our young people the best start in life.