Apprentices welcome Ed Miliband to Dudley College

Apprentices welcomed the Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour party, to Dudley College during his recent visit in which the opposition leader spent some time discussing Apprenticeships and viewing Dudley Advance, the college’s new Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology.

With Apprenticeships being the focus of the visit, staff from Dudley College were able to explain how the college was addressing the skills needs of employers across the borough and further afield, through Apprenticeship training.

The party leader also heard first-hand from a group of apprentices about their experience of earning and learning and why they had opted for the Apprenticeship route. The apprentices, who are employed and attend Dudley College as part of their training, posed questions relating to careers advice, minimum wage and Labour’s proposed ‘starter job’ initiative.

During his time at the college, Ed Miliband was given an overview of Dudley Advance, which has been developed in partnership with local engineering employers to ensure the training and facilities it will offer meet local needs.

He said “Apprenticeships are essential to the development of our economy. Dudley College is an excellent example of innovative ways in which a large further education college is working with employers and stakeholders to address the skills gap.

“The partnership with engineering and manufacturing companies which the college has established to support the development of Dudley Advance, its new engineering training centre, demonstrates new ways of working which can provide training and employment for young people and the skilled workforce that profitable and successful employers require.”

Neil Thomas, Director of Dudley Advance, who escorted the party leader whilst at the college, said “We were very pleased to welcome Ed Miliband to the college as it gave us an opportunity to show how we are addressing skills development, developing new training facilities and working with employers on Apprenticeships.

“The training of young people and preparing them for work is our main focus, and during the visit there were lots of chances to explain how we are currently working with over 1,200 employers to train over 3,000 of their employees.”

Present at the visit were two local employers and their apprentices who are currently undertaking engineering training with Dudley College.  Andy Durham from Techniswage in Smethwick is an advocate of Apprenticeships and understands the benefits this training brings to his engineering business.

“I’d been looking to train someone up to do my job in the future, and having seen how Apprenticeships work, Dudley College has helped me with the succession planning for my company,” explained Andy, “Employers can’t be forced to take on an apprentice; they need to be educated to understand that Apprenticeships are the best way to update the skills in a business. An apprentice sees the real world of work and is trained by somebody who often has years of experience, and because the training takes place in the workplace, they can be moulded to fit your company.”

Kevin O’Toole, from Eurocraft Enclosures Ltd in Dudley, along with other high profile employers from the area, has been on the Dudley Advance Steering Group since its inception two years ago.

This group has been instrumental in the development of the new engineering training centre, advising on the type of qualifications, equipment and services Dudley Advance will offer to employers.

This new service enables local businesses to access the facility and equipment to support their companies and in return, employers offer to work in partnership with the college, providing apprenticeship opportunities, work experience, tours and industry talks for college students.