Former engineering apprentice turned Government minister, Gordon Birtwistle went back to the shop floor with Cambridge MP Julian Huppert to meet apprentices learning the skills of the trade.
Mr Birtwistle, Liberal Democrat Apprenticeship Ambassador to Business was invited to join Julian for a visit to Cambridge Regional College where the apprentices are being trained with the backing of city employers.
The visit was the culmination of Julian’s Celebrating Apprenticeships scheme in which he visited apprentices working in a variety of companies across Cambridge over the past year.
And during his visit to CRC Mr Birtwistle showed off his engineering skills working on one of the lathes watched by the young apprentices.
Gordon began his engineering career as an apprentice and went on to run his own business. In his present role, he promotes apprenticeships to young people and employers across the country.
During his visit he also met apprentice chefs who were preparing lunch for the visit and other apprentices and their employers who had taken part in the Celebrating Apprenticeships initiative.
Julian said, “It’s wonderful to be invited here to see the fantastic work the apprentices are doing. Cambridge Regional College now has almost 5,000 apprentices, and has seen a huge increase in numbers in recent years.
“It is vital that the government highlights the importance and value of apprenticeships. They provide superb training for students to give them the necessary skills for employment, and are extremely beneficial for employers too. Many of the businesses I’ve spoken to over the past year have said they would certainly hire an apprentice into a full-time role after their course has finished.
“In the next Parliament I want to see more support going towards creating apprenticeships, and assisting apprentices themselves. Two million apprenticeships have been created, but we want to increase this number in the coming years, and encourage more employers to take on apprentices. I would also like to see an increase in the minimum wage for apprentices.
“There are a wide range of areas in which young people can study for an apprenticeship, such as manufacturing, construction, and catering, like we have seen here at CRC. All of these areas provide a valuable contribution to the economy, and it’s great to see this happening here in Cambridge.”