Last week was National Apprenticeship Week – an annual celebration that brings the entire apprenticeship community together to praise the immensely positive contribution apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the economy as a whole. The National Apprenticeship Service coordinated the week brilliantly and I strongly believe the importance of apprenticeship opportunities to this country cannot be underestimated.

Apprenticeships provide people of all ages with a brilliant opportunity to learn on-the-job whilst gaining nationally recognised qualifications. The Government are committed to promoting these merits and help people to get a better understanding of exactly what’s involved in undertaking such a scheme.

I held my own annual Apprenticeship Fair last Friday afternoon at Kingswinford Community Centre which was generally regarded as a huge success by employers and attendees alike. We had over 100 people through the doors to speak face-to-face with local and national employers about the kind of apprenticeship schemes that could interest them. Representatives from a wide range of companies and industries were on hand to talk to apprenticeship-seekers, from the Army to Dudley Council and from Vision Express to the Civil Service.

There’s only so much researching an apprenticeship scheme online can tell you about what it’s actually like and sometimes people are unsure whether employers are currently looking for new apprentices, which is why I made a special effort to ensure local people can speak directly to representatives of businesses and organisations that are actively recruiting and have open apprenticeship vacancies. I’d like to thank everyone that came along, especially the employers who were extremely enthusiastic and I’m sure inspired some local people into getting involved in an apprenticeship scheme.

I have always maintained that whilst the university route is a very good one, it is not the only path young people can take and apprenticeships suit some people perfectly, especially those who want to get out into the world of work as soon as they leave school. That’s why I was pleased to see so many local people pop into my Apprenticeship Fair to see what opportunities are available for them and what industries could inspire them.

I’m also keen on breaking the perception that some people have about apprenticeships only being suited to young people. Adults looking for a career change can also benefit hugely from the opportunities an apprenticeship with the right company can hold. Getting Dudley South working has been one of my main priorities since being elected to Parliament in 2015 and I’m always immensely encouraged when I see the next generation taking an interest in the different types of careers that are out there so they can become to leaders of tomorrow.

I hold events like this for all age groups throughout the year that my constituents will hopefully find useful, therefore I will be hosting another Older Persons’ Information Fair this summer after the success of my last one, as well as my annual September Jobs Fair. If you’d like to receive more information about either of these events closer to the time then please do get in touch with me.