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A choice on how we treat our young people: providing opportunities or kicking away the ladders to success?

A few weeks ago I visited Britvic, the soft drinks company that is now head quartered at Breakspear Park in Hemel; the team at Britvic were fantastic and getting a sense of the sheer science that goes into every drink is fascinating – not just the drink but its packaging, its marketing and the logistics exercise that gets it into the supermarkets and, subsequently, our kitchen cupboards.  I couldn’t help but reflect that had I visited such a facility when studying science at school, I might have understood a lot more about the value of all manner of scientific learning. Many Hemel schools have already visited the labs at Breakspear Park; I can only recommend that others do likewise.

The visit also provided an opportunity to discuss local opportunities for young people – Britvic offer apprenticeships across various functions annually - and a chance to announce Labour’s plan for a new partnership with local businesses to drive up apprenticeship opportunities for young people locally, something that I plan to initiate with a Hemel Apprenticeships Summit in the immediate aftermath of the General Election, an event designed to being our employers, schools, colleges and training providers together so that we can share practice and establish shared objectives. 

Nationally, Andrew Adonis has been working on enhancing the provision of apprenticeships for some years now, championing in particular a national framework for apprenticeships that puts access to industrial training on a par with the UCAS process for access to Higher Education, and this week’s announcement from Labour nationally that apprenticeships are to form part of a new entitlement for young people who gain the appropriate grades is a practical outcome from this long-standing area of policy concern. 

How it contrasts with Conservative headlines in this week’s papers – all about how allegedly ‘work-shy’ young people will be docked benefits and forced to ‘volunteer’ if they are not in employment. This shouldn’t be about punishing young people who are struggling to get on the employment ladder; it should be about providing many more ladders to climb.

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