Skills, Employability and Aspirations in Dudley South

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Welcoming the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury - Liz Truss - to Dudley College in February to showcase the college's cutting-edge facilities

Regular readers of my column will know that I have something of a passion for education and I have used my position as a Member of Parliament to push for better standards in our schools and an educational system fit for the modern day. I must declare something of a personal interest here - my wife is a teaching assistant currently working towards her teaching qualification. Our area’s manufacturing heritage is something that must be treasured, but also complimented by a modern, ambitious educational programme that embraces the opportunities vocational qualifications can offer both to our young people and the wider local economy. 

In last week’s Spending Round, The Chancellor confirmed a very welcome increase in school funding, meaning that every secondary school will be allocated a minimum of £5,000 per pupil by 2020-21, and every primary school £4,000 per pupil by 2021-22.  After visiting every primary school in Dudley South at least once in the last eighteen months, I have listened to the concerns of headteachers and am extremely pleased that, whichever way you look at it, money for our education system is going up next year. A huge £400 million has also been earmarked to train and teach more 16 to 19-year olds the skills they need for well-paid jobs in the modern economy, including the introduction of the new T-Level qualifications, which Dudley College are continuing to roll out very successfully. 

The new Secretary of State for Education, our very own neighbour from South Staffordshire: Gavin Williamson, will be visiting Dudley College today (Thursday). I am very pleased that Gavin has made it clear that vocational skills are his main priority, which is fantastic news for us in the Dudley Borough. His visit comes soon after last week’s announcement that Dudley College could be in line to receive up to £25 million to develop a new university centre and vocational training facilities through the Government’s ‘Stronger Towns Fund.’ This development will make a massive difference to what is possible for young people developing their careers and will transform the gateway into Dudley to make it somewhere people want to go. 

I’m pleased to say that I will again be making my own personal contribution to local employment opportunities by bringing together employers and job-seekers for my fifth Dudley South Jobs and Careers Fair on Thursday 26th September at Brierley Hill Civic Hall between 11am-3pm. Please do come along if you are looking for a job or career change – I have only invited companies and organisations that currently have open vacancies. 

I hope all the schoolchildren in Dudley South had a pleasant return to school last week. Fortunately for many of us in Westminster, the gentleman who believes he is headmaster of the House of Commons, John Bercow, will be stepping down as Speaker next month. Who said everything’s all gloom and doom in our national politics?