Last week in Parliament, I was able to hand in my Private Members Bill which will aim to boost apprenticeships for young people. It is entitled the Apprenticeships and Skills (Public Procurement Contracts) Bill, and if it becomes law it will make a real difference to the lives of young people here in Stockport.
Helping young people with apprenticeships is something the Labour Party has had a long commitment to. Ed Miliband has set out his focus on the forgotten 50% of young people who do not go to university. We know that not everybody wants or needs a university education. To support the 50% who pursue a vocational path, my new law would sets out to ensure that companies receiving large public procurement contracts – the value of which is about £230bn a year – create much needed apprenticeships for our young people. Having more than 250 young people in my constituency out of work for more than six months is unacceptable.
And we have a proud recent history on apprenticeships. In government, Labour set up the dedicated National Apprenticeship Service to promote and expand the apprenticeship scheme and engage with employers, as well as launching National Apprenticeship Week in 2008. After it became clear that many apprenticeships were lasting less than a year, pressure from Labour forced the Government to adopt a 12-month minimum duration for all apprenticeships in 2012.
By supporting local businesses to create new job opportunities, and investing in our towns and infrastructure, Labour in local government is putting jobs and growth first, and standing up for local people.
Long-term unemployment can have an awful impact on communities and individuals alike. We must do everything we can to help get these young people back into work. And we can, if the Government and the Labour opposition both decide to support my new Bill.
I hope you will join me in calling for this much-needed law. I have managed to guide a private Bill through Parliament once before, and many countries across the world are now following the principles it enshrined in law. I dearly hope I can do it again, because young people in Stockport can wait no longer.
This article has been written for the MP’s column in the Stockport Express and Stockport Times newspaper