Speaking at the Third Annual Apprenticeship Awards ceremony, the Secretary of State for Education Alan Johnson MP made it plain that the ticket to economic prosperity is one that must be stamped by the inspector of education and training.
Amongst the employers winning awards for their work in the Apprenticeship sector was British Gas, who employ 650 Apprentices and see the programme as key to the success of their organisation. Apprenticeships have been hailed as part of the solution to the skills gap cited by employers as a cause of concern; as such, it would seem that skills and training are the answer and will help to build business performance generally and business confidence in FE specifically.
A Strong Business”¦
Speaking at the event, Mr. Johnson highlighted the importance of the programmes, saying: “It’s no co-incidence that the companies behind these awards are Britain’s most successful. We need to celebrate these success stories; helping us to tackle the inexplicable lack of proper appreciation for vocational excellence that has persisted in Britain for too many years.
“The fact is that there is no better way to learn to be an engineer than by being an engineer; no better method of absorbing an experienced worker’s skills than by watching them in action; and no better system for giving people practical skills for the workplace than extending and encouraging apprenticeships,” he continued. “Tonight’s winners prove the success of this approach and the Awards provide a vital showcase, shining the spotlight on some of the quarter of a million apprentices now training with 130,000 businesses ““ the highest ever and rising.”
Another Government Minister took the chance to speak out on the issue at the event. Phil Hope MP Minister for Skills, said: “Each and every finalist has achieved outstanding success and shown us all how much can be achieved through commitment and purpose. Each one is an inspiration to others who may be considering investing in the benefits of Apprenticeships.”
Positive, With a But”¦
Chris Humphries, the Director General of City & Guilds, said: “Any business can only be as good as the skills of its workforce, so it’s great to see that the Apprenticeship Awards showcase the very best in staff training. We are delighted to sponsor these Awards for the second year running. As well as applauding individual and employer successes, these Awards highlight the real economic benefits that Apprenticeships have to offer.”
However, a note of caution was injected. Stephen Gardner, the Director of Apprenticeships at the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) who support the Awards, said: “While great progress is being made in meeting this country’s skills challenges, our research shows that 16 per cent of employers are still reporting skills gaps in their workforces. Therefore, it is imperative that businesses continue to invest in staff training and skills development.
“With this in mind,” he continued, “we are thrilled to recognise those employers who are investing in the skills of young people to safeguard the workforce of the future. British Gas and the other winners of this year’s Awards are truly inspirational and set a great example to businesses around the country of what can be achieved within the Apprenticeship Programme when committed work with young people and providers of training to develop excellence.”
Therefore, as positive as the picture may be, it would seem there is still a great deal to do if business and education are to work hand in hand to build the skills of the workforce.
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