It seems fitting that I deliver this address on apprenticeships during National Apprenticeship week.
Which is an opportunity not only to celebrate the fantastic organisations across the Liverpool City Region – that invest in our future generation – but – to praise the young people who are currently enrolled on an apprenticeship programme.
I have always been a great believer in apprenticeships and I have taken two apprentices on in my office. Indeed I am the product of how far an apprenticeship can take you.
When I left school at 16, construction was the first thing I’d really excelled at, so I was delighted when I was lucky enough get an indentured apprenticeship as a bricklayer.
Fast forward a couple of decades – to 2001 – when I was working for the Learning and Skills council as a Business Manager. I was responsible for apprenticeship funding right across Merseyside – during the turbulent days of the previous Cammell Laird Company which went into receivership.
I was despatched as part of a rescue team to work alongside people like Terry and Jim Teasdale and the local council – with the task of saving the apprentices – whose jobs and livelihoods were endangered. The collaborative approach we adopted was later used as a model of best practice for mass-closures up-and-down the country.
The Government have offered our area the opportunity of a devolution deal.
This means that the 6 districts of Knowsley, Halton, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and the Wirral will join forces to work collaboratively to use devolution to address the North-South divide and rebalance the economy.
The devolution deal provides us with the opportunity to make funding decisions on the requirements of what we need locally – not by mandarins in Whitehall 300 miles away.
By devolving skills, it will allow the Metro Mayor to set the agenda – and train up the next generation of trades men and women by providing the high skill, high paid, high aspiration jobs we need to build and sustain our future economic fortunes.
I want to create lots of proper apprenticeships – like those available over the road at Cammell Laird – in the workplaces of many of the companies here this morning. I want NVQ level to be the Gold standard – but will also roll-out a programme of degree level apprenticeships across the city region.
We need to ensure young people are at the heart of our strategy, rather than constantly being the target for further cuts. We need to promote parity of esteem between vocational and academic routes into work. And – as Metro Mayor, my goal will be to help young people who consider an apprenticeship as the best path for them, to find the right employers to work with.
As Metro Mayor, my goal will be to help young people who consider an apprenticeship as the best path for them, to find the right employers to work with. So I will develop an apprenticeship portal – similar to the current UCAS style system – which young people can access to apply for apprenticeship opportunities wherever they exist across the region.
However, in a recent report it identified the biggest impediment to young people taking-up apprenticeship opportunities was the cost of travel. So I will also bring forward detailed proposals to introduce concessionary travel passes for new apprentices.
I believe the appetite of young people for proper apprenticeships today has never been greater.
But this government has all too often devalued apprenticeships – and the opportunities they present to millions of young people across Britain.
So – I want to change that and I hope you will all join me on that very exciting journey.