105FM :: Local Radio for Redcar & Cleveland

Tom Blenkinsop (Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland), Anna Turley (Labour candidate for Redcar) and Louise Baldock (Labour candidate for Stockton South) have today branded new figures revealing almost 1,300 fewer young people starting apprenticeships as “shameful”.

Across Teesside constituencies (Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Redcar, Stockton North and Stockton South) Secondary School Apprenticeships (SSA) starts were 8040 in 2012-13. This has now dramatically fallen by 1290 to 6750 in 2013-14.

Responding to these figures Tom Blenkinsop said: “Despite claims by the Coalition Government we are seeing the numbers of apprenticeships falling. These new figures show a worrying drop in apprenticeship starts for young people across Teesside. To grow the number of high-skilled, better-paid jobs we need more apprenticeship opportunities – particularly for our young people. It is shameful that under this Government the opportunity for a brighter future for our young people is fading away.”

Anna Turley added: “Across Redcar we have seen a massive decrease of over 20% in young people starting apprenticeships. Lib Dem and Tory ministers should be embarrassed by their clear failure to provide opportunities for our young people, who will make up the next generation of workers.

“One of the first acts of a Labour Government would be a drive to transform technical and vocational education ensuring all apprenticeships are at Level 3 or above – the equivalent of A-levels - and aimed at young people. We particularly need to rebuild careers advice services, which have been decimated by this Government.

“When high-skilled, better paid jobs are available it is only right that local young people are in a position, with the appropriate skills, to be able to apply for them. Under this Government, this is shamefully not the case.”

Louise Baldock said: “Despite the Conservatives trying to persuade us that things are improving hugely across Teesside, local people are not fools. We know how tough it is for our young people to find a job or get a start. 250 fewer apprenticeships in Stockton South means 250 youngsters with lost opportunities. 

“Condemning young people to the scrap heap is very wrong. Helping put this right is one of my top priorities.”

Zetland FM contacted Cllr Josh Mason, Prospective Liberal Democrat MP for Redcar. He commented: “5120 apprenticeships have been created in Redcar Constituency since 2010. In the full parliamentary term prior to 2010, Labour only managed to create 3020. In much less time we've created 60% more apprenticeships so I am surprised that Labour are reminding everyone how they failed so many of our bright young people.

“We are still seeing a positive rise in apprenticeships in our area and I’ve met some absolutely fantastic examples. We’ve put apprenticeships back on the agenda and it is having a positive effect on youth unemployment which has fallen drastically since 2010. Let’s not let Labour keep putting us down and undermining our achievements with this cheap political point scoring.

“It is typical of Labour to talk our area down and quite frankly, the figures speak for themselves.”

Zetland FM contacted Will Goodhand, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. He commented: “Labour said our economic plan wouldn’t work. Yet we now have the fastest growing economy in Western Europe by far and more than a thousand fewer people on unemployment benefit in Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland. Now they are talking down apprenticeships – but the truth is we have had approximately double the number of apprenticeships starting each year of this Government compared to previous years under Labour – with over a thousand starting in 2013/14 compared to only 640 in Labour’s last year.

"It’s time Labour did something positive instead of putting young people off this excellent route into skilled work: I recently organised an Apprenticeship Fair where over a hundred young people from Teesside came to meet local businesses offering skilled apprenticeships, connecting them to real opportunities. I will keep working to create such opportunities to build on our successes so far.”

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