COLUMN: The right skills are vital

Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP
Ben Bradley, Mansfield MP

One of my big priorities in Parliament will be in education and skills, and particularly how we support local people to find rewarding careers.

I’ve already expressed my support for the work of West Notts College and other institutions that are helping people of all ages to gain the qualifications they need to succeed, and I think our schools and colleges have a huge part to play in the regeneration of our community.

Recently I attended an event for recent graduates from West Notts College’s ‘access to higher education’ courses, where local people are studying A-level equivalent qualifications to help them get on to university courses in particular subjects like nursing, social care or teaching.

Many are adult learners with jobs, children and other responsibilities alongside studying and I have the 
utmost respect for those who manage to keep all of those plates spinning at once.

The great success of courses like that is, I believe, that they are directly linked to specific careers.

One of the biggest challenges for employers who want skilled workers is finding people who have the education and ability not just in the same general subject but to meet the specific needs of that business, which is a particular problem in subjects like science and engineering.

That means it’s vital that business engages directly with schools and colleges to make sure that their courses are relevant, and are delivering the skills that will lead people directly in to jobs or further training.

This week I joined the All Party Group in Parliament for Skills and Employment, and I want to focus on connecting the two, ensuring that the skills we are teaching directly match up to the jobs that are available down the line.

That will mean that those people in Mansfield who do well and gain great qualifications can then access the careers they want locally instead of having to go elsewhere, which would be a huge boost for our local economy too.