Shadow Minister for FE

Toby Perkins MP, Shadow Minister for Apprenticeships and Lifelong Learning, visited Steve Willis Training Centres in Burgess Hill recently to learn more about Apprenticeship provision, and how apprenticeship training can address the looming skills shortage in the construction and allied trades.

He dropped in on two electrical apprenticeship classes and spoke to the apprentices. He was interested to hear from them about their experiences with finding employment and what they hoped to achieve from their training.

The visit was organised in conjunction with HomeServe Foundation and Clarion Futures, the charitable arms of Homeserve and Clarion Housing Group who are both focused on the importance of improving social mobility and creating opportunities for young people through apprenticeships. Toby joined a round table discussion about how links between organisations and training providers can maximise the benefits of apprenticeship training and what support is needed.

Steve Willis Training has been working with Clarion Futures for several years to provide support to apprentices as they move into work through their training programme, and are now delighted to be linking up with the HomeServe Foundation.

The HomeServe Foundation aims to dramatically increase the number of apprentices in the UK while reducing unemployment. Their initial focus is to support the growth of the UK’s skills, capacity and experience by encouraging and helping hard-working employers to take on apprentices in the construction, home improvements and repairs sectors. Working in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service, it has built a platform to give employers all the guidance, tools and support they need to make employing apprentices the best and most efficient choice for their business. Based on a market-leading and industry-approved Training Academy in Nottingham, the foundation’s goal is to increase the number of apprenticeships in the UK by 25,000 over the next three years.

Helen Booth, director of the HomeServe Foundation, attended the visit to Steve Willis Training and said:

“The Shadow Minister was really interested in what we’re doing at the Apprenticeship Academy in Nottingham and in our partnership with Steve Willis Training in Burgess Hill and Clarion Futures. He agrees with us that that something has to change if we’re going to see the number of trades apprentices increase in enough quantity to match the expected demand over the next decade. 

“More than 60 per cent of the work in the construction and trades sector is carried out by small business or self-employed individuals and this makes the logistics of training and passing on skills more complex under the current arrangements.  

“Our report the UK Domestic Trades Index found if this is not tackled now - by making it simpler for trade businesses to grow and by scaling up the training and recruitment of apprentices - the consequences will be bleak, not just for the industry but for the Government’s plan to kick-start the economy, reduce unemployment and reach its climate change obligations over the next decade.” 

Steve Willis Training’s Managing Director Steve Willis is looking forward to developing the partnership, and said:

“Collaborating with Homeserve Foundation will strengthen our commitment to promoting apprenticeships to employers as both a great way to grow a business, and the route to a bright future for young people in our area.”

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