The Secretary of State and the ministerial team regularly meet business representative organisations to discuss how Government can continue to support businesses and help them to grow. We regularly discuss the apprenticeship levy and are working closely with colleagues in the Department for Education to feed back the views of the business community.
I was lucky enough to visit Forterra in my constituency near Desford, where it is building a £95 million brick factory. Forterra raised the apprenticeship levy because it is finding difficulties trying to get more people to come and work in the likes of the heavy goods vehicle sector. Part of the difficulty is the constraints around how the levy can be used. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we can get rid of some of the red tape and be creative for those industries that are particularly struggling with the legislation and the restraints around the apprenticeship levy?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on speaking up for businesses in his area and on Forterra, which I understand from reading will be one of the largest brick factories in Europe. I would be very happy to meet him and I am grateful for any comments that he or other colleagues have about the apprenticeship levy.
We are trying to find out this morning what the Secretary of State’s job is. It says “Industrial Strategy”, but how can we have an industrial strategy without skills? The Minister knows that something is seriously wrong with the apprenticeship levy—and what about kickstart? That has quietly died the death. It was the flagship training policy of this country. What the hell is going on on the Government Benches if they do not know what their job is?
We always welcome all contributions, particularly constructive ones such as that one. The apprenticeship levy has been in place since 2015: among the most recent statistics, more than 100,000 people have begun apprenticeships and under-25s make up a substantial proportion of the number of people taking up apprenticeships. While we will always look at how we can improve things, a substantial amount of progress has been made in recent years.