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Part of Opposition Day — [19th Allotted Day] — Tax Fairness – in the House of Commons at 5:50 pm on 12th March 2013.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson Conservative, South Staffordshire 5:50 pm, 12th March 2013

One great positive that we can take out of the debate so far is that many Members are very positive about apprenticeships. I accept that there will be disagreements, but what we can all take away from it is that we want apprenticeships to succeed and to work.

In my constituency in the past year, 1,070 apprenticeship places have been created—a vast 88% increase from 2010. That is ahead of the national average by 86%, but unfortunately it lags slightly behind the west midlands average of 91%. We should feel a great sense of pride at what has been achieved and we can do more. Apprenticeships have a vital role to play in driving down unemployment and getting young people into work.

In South Staffordshire, we are blessed not to have an exceptionally high rate of unemployment, but that is down to the fact that we are proactive in driving down unemployment. Since 2010, South Staffordshire district council has been running job clubs right across the constituency. South Staffordshire does not have a jobcentre and it is often difficult for people to access their services, so we have been running job clubs in Wombourne, Kinver, Codsall, Bilbrook, Great Wyrley and many other villages right across my constituency to help people both young and old to access employment. They are not just about guiding and encouraging people, telling them how to make their CVs better and giving them the confidence to go out and get a job; they bring employers to them. It is with great pride that, working with my district council, we will have a jobs fair at Perton civic centre on 26 April. Already, many major local employers have committed to attend, bringing jobs and employment opportunities to all in South Staffordshire. I hope it will be a great success, and I know that many Opposition Members have been doing similar things in their own constituencies.