Of course I do, and I congratulate them both on their great success. I was about to mention the apprenticeship levy, which is essential because it encourages large businesses to invest in their workforce and in the future, and will ensure that the UK has the skilled workforce it needs in the years to come.
During my time as an MP, I have regularly heard that more needs to be done to tailor skills to play to local strengths and boost productivity. Brilliant work is being done in Derby to try to tackle that problem. For example, in response to the needs of businesses such as Rolls-Royce and Bombardier, the university in the city recently opened a new science, technology, engineering and maths building. Apprenticeship providers such as 3aaa are building initiatives to link employers, schools and apprenticeship providers to tailor skills. A great example is the recently opened construction academy in Derby North, which looks to encourage and train young people in the much-needed skill of bricklaying. More needs to be done to support such hard work, and giving the required resources to the productivity plan will do just that. Initiatives such as those I have mentioned can make a real difference locally, and will not only set the foundations for growth but keep the east midlands and the UK on the map as a place where a technically skilled workforce is in place to meet demand.
It is reported that there is an annual engineering skills gap of 82,000 staff, which is clearly cause for concern. However, it is widely recognised in Derby that the local worker supply chain is struggling to keep up with the demand for skills that employers need. There are, though, positive signs that with smart investment and the long-term vision that comes from the productivity plan, those problems can be overcome. The Government have shown that they are committed to tackling our productivity problem, whether it is through new funding and capital, or through education, infrastructure and research and development. It is imperative that we support the plans outlined as we look to implement a long-term vision for our economy. I certainly feel that for Derby and the east midlands there are some great proposals in the plan that will go a long way towards addressing our specific concerns, while also addressing the issue of productivity and output throughout the UK.