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I beg to move,
That this House
notes National Apprenticeship Week, established by the previous Government, and held from 11 to
further notes the need to increase apprenticeship places;
and therefore resolves that the Government uses the billions of pounds committed to public procurement to boost apprenticeships by requiring firms winning public contracts worth over £1 million to offer apprenticeship opportunities, implementing the recommendation of the Fifth Report of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, HC 83, on Apprenticeships.
It is a pleasure and honour for me as shadow Minister responsible for apprenticeships to open this debate in national apprenticeship week. Back in 2008, my right hon. Friend Mr Denham, then the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, launched apprenticeship week as a vehicle to promote the real and valuable opportunities that apprenticeships offer. It is a tribute to him that national apprenticeship week has since become a central part of the employment and skills calendar.
This is a week in which excellence and aspiration in learning, and acquiring skills and trades in areas as diverse as engineering, construction, the hospitality industry, joinery, accountancy, and health and social care, are showcased and celebrated. To see so many MPs from all sides of the House getting involved and celebrating apprenticeship achievements in their constituencies is a great thing. We must remember, however, that apprenticeships did not emerge from a blank canvas in 2010, as some Government Members have occasionally implied.
When Labour came to government in 1997 the apprenticeship programme was floundering. We resurrected that historic badge of excellence and made it fit for purpose in the 21st century. Under the previous Labour Government, the number of apprenticeships more than quadrupled. National apprenticeship week was launched to give expanded life chances and skills a focus for recognition and celebration, and the Labour Government also set up the National Apprenticeship Service to drive the project all year round.