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Skills minister: "I love FE. You’ve all proven yourselves by climbing the ladder of opportunity."

Posted 21st April 2017

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Robert Halfon MP met students, apprentices and staff at our Poplar campus on Thursday. He took the time to speak individually to all the young people he met, finding out about why each chose their course or apprenticeship and their aspirations for the future. In turn they gave the minister advice and suggestions for how the Government could more effectively promote the benefits of apprenticeships to other young people.

Particularly interested in the students’ very clear career aspirations, the minister told the group: “You are all impressive people and you’re all going to do really well.”

Apprentices who met with the minister during the visit, work in varied roles including graphic design, IT, business and facilities management. They each joined their apprenticeship due to different motivations, but all of them have their sights set on successful careers. Several have already been offered permanent roles in their company.

“I love apprenticeships. They are incredible.” Halfon said. “You learn, you get skills in the workplace, you get real work experience and you get paid! 90% of people who complete an apprenticeship move into a job or into higher levels of study.”

The minister was grateful for suggestions from the group for how the Government could meet the target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. Design apprentice Denzel suggested, “the Government needs to communicate to parents that an apprenticeship is a good choice for academic high achievers.” There was also a consensus that impartial advice in schools along with more powerful case studies and a refresh of the Government’s apprenticeships website would be helpful.

Inviting the students and apprentices to stay in touch with him with further ideas, he told them: “I love FE. This is an amazing college and you’ve all proven yourselves by climbing the ladder of opportunity. Congratulations to you all.”

New City College Group Principal and CEO Gerry McDonald said: “It was a pleasure to welcome the Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships to meet students and apprentices at our newly merged college. Our young people very much enjoyed telling him all about their experiences and aspirations during an encouraging and inspirational discussion. The minister has a strong understanding of further education and apprenticeships. He was very positive about our college and the opportunities our students have to reach their full potential and progress into successful careers.”

The New City College group was formed by the merger of Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Redbridge colleges.