Local MP Mark Hunter quizzes Ministers

March 6, 2007 5:00 PM
Mark in chamber

Mark Hunter quizzes Ministers

The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, Bill Rammell and the Minister for Science and Innovation, Malcolm Wicks were quizzed today by Cheadle MP Mark Hunter, when they appeared before the Trade and Industry Select Committee in Parliament.

The Select Committee, of which Mr Hunter has been a member since his election in 2005, are currently conducting an inquiry into the 'future of UK manufacturing: skill shortages'. The Ministers attended in order to give evidence and answer questions. Concerned by the public perception of manufacturing as 'dirty' and 'in decline', the Cheadle MP asked the Minister how this perception could be countered in schools and colleges, and what the Government was doing to address the problem. The Minister for Higher Education and Lifelong Learning, in his answer confirmed that perceptions of manufacturing were a real problem, but claimed that the issue was being addressed in a variety of ways including the Careers Advisory Service. Mr Rammell also argued that this wasn't an issue for Government alone, but that it needed the active involvement of the private sector in order to make progress.

Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Science and Innovation, was asked by the Cheadle MP what assistance is available for those who find themselves having to retrain, either because of technological change or the demise of their chosen industry. The Minister promised a follow-up note setting out Government policies on this issue.

Commenting after the meeting, Mark Hunter said, "I am concerned the significant skill shortages that are evident in areas such as manufacturing, technology and engineering still exist. This Government needs to do more to ensure that careers advice to students is balanced and portrays these professions in a more positive light, to allow students to take informed decisions about their future education, training and careers. The Government also need to ensure that the necessary training opportunities for these sectors actually exist and are effectively promoted to applicant students. These steps are vital to guarantee there is a well qualified and trained workforce, who will in turn secure the future of the British industry and the economy".

"It is also important not to forget that many people have enforced career changes later in life, and here too it is important that re-training opportunities are available and are well publicized."

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