When we won the election in December, it was partly because of a strong commitment to investing in education and skills across the regions of the UK. I’m proud of the manifesto I stood on which promised a £3 billion National Skills Fund, alongside other major investment in skills and training.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has done some incredible things to protect jobs and help employers retain staff through and beyond the crisis. And we’re now helping businesses get people back to work and back to the office, and there’s been even more support on offer to get our brilliant restaurants and retailers on their feet.
Due to Coronavirus, we face profound economic challenges, and this means there may be fewer immediate opportunities for people joining the workforce for the first time.
That only strengthens the argument for more training opportunities. And I’ve seen first hand how training providers are responding to that growing demand. I am proud to have the UK’s leading independent training provider, Learning Curve Group, on my doorstep, and it was great to visit their Head Office again recently.
Learning Curve Group and others have been incredibly creative throughout the past few months, adapting to a remote-first world. Just because people are at home doesn’t mean they can’t access training courses, and we have to remember that. We must also bear in mind that lots of employers might not be able to immediately take on workers or apprentices - so we need a variety of training at every level, not just on-the-job experience – to guarantee an opportunity for every young person.
We need to listen to training providers like Learning Curve Group who have been able to deliver a high number of courses in key sectors like social care, infection control and mental health. Working with the Department for Education and Treasury, we want to ensure training providers get the funding they need to continue this work.
I am confident the ongoing Spending Review and the next Budget will have plenty of good news for our nation’s young people and all those who want to find a new career path. I’ll certainly be banging the drum for that in Westminster and Whitehall.
This is crucial to levelling up the country and keeping our Government’s promises to the North East –something I know the Prime Minister, Chancellor and Cabinet are all itching to get on with.