Helen Grant and Tracey Crouch have welcomed the success of the inaugural Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair which took place on Friday 23rd February at Maidstone Leisure Centre.
The Fair, co-hosted by the neighbouring MPs, was attended by over 600 students from 16 schools across the Maidstone and the Weald and Chatham and Aylesford constituencies. The 16-18 year old students, who also included representatives from local children's charities such as the Young Lives Foundation, were joined by 50 apprentice employers from a broad array of sectors including; engineering, accountancy, hospitality and the armed forces.
The Fair provided an opportunity for the young people to meet with potential employers and learn more about the apprenticeships on offer. Many signed up to find out more about the specific roles available.
Attendees were also delighted to be joined by the Rt Hon. Anne Milton, Minister of State for Apprenticeships and Skills who spoke with students and businesses about the benefits of undertaking an apprenticeship as a route into the work place.
Helen said: 'I am delighted by the overwhelming support we received from business and schools to make this ambition a reality. There is clearly a huge desire from both to focus more on apprenticeship careers.
Apprenticeships provide life changing opportunities for young people and I am pleased that so many more Maidstone and the Weald students are now better informed about the potential they can offer. It was very encouraging to hear from the students who had previously been unsure about their options upon leaving school, but were now inspired to undertake an apprenticeship. I hope that this event can become a regular fixture in Maidstone's education and business landscape.
Tracey said, 'We were inspired to host this Fair following a discussion with local sixth form students who were frustrated at the lack of information available to young people who did not wish to go to university. I am confident that, following the success of the inaugural Fair, the students will now have a much better understanding of the opportunities that an apprenticeship can provide.
The benefits of apprenticeships are enormous not only offering a chance for our young people to earn whilst they learn a valuable new skill, but also allowing employers to provide bespoke training for their workforce. I am already looking forward to next year's fair which I hope will be bigger and better still.'
Ms Hern, Director of Sixth Form at Oakwood Park Grammar School said, 'It was wonderful to see the stands surrounded by eager students on Friday. Some of my students, although they will achieve high A level grades, want to begin work whilst studying. The Degree Apprenticeships offered by organisations like Rolls Royce, BAE and the Civil Service give students the ability to get a degree while studying. Students without direction lose motivation. Without this Fair, many Maidstone students may not have the opportunity to reach their potential.
Oakwood Park Grammar School student Evan Lewis said, ''I was voted into Kent Youth County Council and then the National Youth Parliament on a promise to work to improve Higher and Degree level Apprenticeship information for those of us that do not want to go to university. Tracey Crouch listened to what we had to say and asked us to write a list of employers we wanted to meet. I couldn't believe it when we got the letter with all those names and more. All coming to Maidstone. Friends of mine now have a clearer idea of the Degree Apprenticeships they want to follow as the representatives from employers were so friendly and helpful. I can now say to those people who voted for me that something actually came from it!''
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