Following the financial crash ten years ago, this government has worked to transform the economy and improve the lives of people across the country. Our modern Industrial Strategy sets out our plans to create better, higher paying jobs, making sure that the UK is at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. So far, each day, an average of 1,000 jobs have been created and around 140 less young people are out of work. The number of people in full-time work is up, and the rate of women in work is up by 1.2 million, while wages are continuing to increase faster than prices, meaning families’ pay packets can go further.
But as well as focussing on our current workforce, we must also look to our future workers. As young people across the country start and return to Higher Education courses, I was struck this year to see many more students embarking on non-traditional further education routes. In recent years there seemed to be a sense that young people ‘had’ to go to University and study an academic degree in order to find work. However, whilst the right route for some, this left many young people without the skills really needed to succeed in today’s modern workplace, and I have been very pleased to see therefore, the government’s drive in recent years to encourage more young people to consider apprenticeships and hands-on skills training.
From 2020 we will be investing £500 million every year into new gold standard T-Levels – the technical equivalence to A levels – which will be introduced into colleges from 2020, and combine classroom study and real-world industry placements in fields like manufacturing, digital, medicine and construction. This will ensure that we are giving young people the best start in life, and also developing the skilled workforce that will make sure the UK seizes the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Locally, I have been delighted to see that Wiltshire College has now been granted University Centre status, meaning that it will now be known as Wiltshire College and University Centre. Huge congratulations to Amanda Burnside and team, who I know have been working hard for a long time now to achieve this fantastic recognition. The College currently delivers over 20 university level courses across its four campuses, including courses in Early Years and Childhood Studies, Computing, and Animal Science and Management. For any young people starting to think about what they might want to do after leaving compulsory education, I would suggest Wiltshire College and University Centre’s website as a great starting point to see all the exciting options available locally.