IFA Teched | Flickr.com
IFA Teched | Flickr.com

On Monday, the government demonstrated their lack of ambition for the country’s young people by voting against Labour’s amendments to the Skills Bill. The Bill which had originated in the Lords had its Third Reading in the Commons.

Most people are aware we are in the midst of an acute labour shortage and in key skills. When combined with a global pandemic and a supply chain crunch, this has exacerbated the economic challenges we currently face.

In Bristol, for example, my staff and I have been in regular touch with various organisations in the nursery, hospitality, and social care sectors, who are having to deal with a shortage of skilled workers.

Which is why, I voted for every young person to have access to a skilled career advisor and at least two weeks’ worth of work experience.

I also voted for amendments that would have facilitated training between the fossil fuel and the renewable energy sector; as well as empowered local authorities further. These are critical interventions if the government is serious about its net zero and levelling-up agenda.

But the Tories aren’t interested in fixing the problems they’ve created. They voted against Labour’s proposals, doubling down on their earlier cut to careers services in 2013.

As well as recruiting over a thousand new careers advisors for schools, Labour’s plan would also embed essential digital and life skills across the curriculum.

The internet has not been the equaliser we had hoped for. According to research by Cambridge, the pandemic has intensified the UK’s digital divide. Lack of access to suitable devices is causing problems for children in poorer households.

Therefore, Labour’s plan also included maintaining the supply of the laptops provided to schools during the pandemic to ensure no young person is without the devices they need to learn and succeed at school.

Under the Tories, 4 in 10 young people are leaving education without level 3 (A-level/BTEC) qualifications essential to the modern economy.

After a dozen years of Conservative rule, even apprenticeships are in decline. In Bristol, over 3,200 people started an apprenticeship in 2015-16. Last year, that number had reduced to just 2,610[1]. Nationally, the picture is just as alarming – a drop of almost two hundred thousand in the number of people over the last decade.

All of this adds up to a set of skills shortages which are holding our economy and our country back. While the Prime Minister and his government are distracted by parties and scandals, it is only Labour that has a real plan.

We want our young people to build a high-wage high-skill economy where we buy, make and sell more here in Britain, so we deliver the security, prosperity and respect people across our country need and deserve.


[1] Source: DfE apprenticeships and traineeships data

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