From education to employment

Siôn Simon ‘Tories in London have turned their backs on apprenticeships – I will fight to overturn this decision’

Siôn Simon, Labour candidate for West Midlands Mayor
The Tories in London have turned their back on apprenticeships and are selling short our talented and ambitious young people.
I’m campaigning to be the Mayor of the West Midlands and this decision will hit the West Midlands hard. Every week businesses and employers are telling me about the skills gap that we face in industry in the West Midlands. It is a fact that we need more young, home-grown technical talent to grow our regional economy and provide high-skilled, well paid jobs for the future.
Last week the government refused to grant permission and funding for 13 further education colleges in the West Midlands to provide apprenticeships for young people. This is a short-sighted decision by a government that is making decisions in London, with no understanding of what we need here in the West Midlands.
When I was growing up in the West Midlands, industry and manufacturing was booming – we were the beating heart of our country.
Since then, we have lost our way. Decisions about the West Midlands have been taken by politicians in London; by people who don’t know about the West Midlands and don’t much care for our problems.
There is so much potential in the West Midlands. We’re the region that produced the Spitfire that won the war. Our car manufacturing base is the envy of the world. But unemployment, especially for young people, remains stubbornly high.
Someone recently said to me: ‘My grandfather helped to rebuild the West Midlands after the war, I want my son to build the new High Speed railway coming to the West Midlands’. It is that sense of building our future with the pride of our past that will drive me as Mayor.
But we can only achieve this if government gets behind our young people – and allows them to train locally for the skills they need to do these new jobs for the next generation of work.
I will be fighting this decision – now, and if I’m elected as West Midlands Mayor in May I will create thousands of apprenticeships for young people, funded by infrastructure investment. 
I want to see an expansion of technical apprenticeships – not the curtailment of training opportunities.
For too long, young people growing up in the West Midlands have felt that to fulfil their ambitions, they would have to uproot and move somewhere else. Well it’s time we did something about it.
We must defend and fight for apprenticeships – and other opportunities for our young people to be able to train for a skilled, well-paid job that will set them up for the future, and if they want to – allow them to stay right here in the West Midlands.
Siôn Simon, Labour’s Candidate for West Midlands Mayor

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