I was a student at Cornwall College where I learnt how to weld and went on to study for a BTEC in Business and then farm management. So it was great to return there again last Friday for one of my regular updates on some of the good work they are doing on apprenticeships and training.
Cornwall College is currently the largest provider of apprenticeships in the South West, with over a thousand apprentices currently training in fields as diverse as plumbing, carpentry and engineering. There are over three hundred of these apprentices being run at Pool making it the largest site. The college has excellent facilities, dedicated staff and you could sense the commitment and enthusiasm of the students. In January, Ofsted recognised this, and praised the college as a catalyst for raising skills in Cornwall, highlighting the quality of the apprenticeships on offer.
The value of apprenticeships as a route into a rewarding career is increasingly recognised with talented students now often choosing an apprenticeship over a degree. It means they earn while they learn and begin their career progression far faster. The Government has its own ambitions to keep increasing the number of apprentices, and at the Autumn Statement in November, the Chancellor announced he would be introducing an apprenticeship levy on big business, with the goal of raising £3 billion in order to fund 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. This will build on what has already been accomplished since 2010. According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 100,000 more young people in full time employment than last year-while in 2014/15, there were 500 new apprenticeship starts in Camborne and Redruth alone.
This is important and encouraging news for Cornwall. For too long we have seen our brightest young people leave for other parts of the country in search of new work opportunities, and as we seek to attract new industries and skilled jobs to Cornwall it is important that we continue developing skills so young people can take advantage of the new opportunities being created.