Karen BradleyKaren Bradley is MP for Staffordshire Moorlands. Follow her
on Twitter here.

Today is the launch of my campaign to find 100
apprenticeships in 100 days for Staffordshire Moorlands. I’m really
excited to be spearheading this local effort with the support of the National
Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the Leek Post and Times. I hope I
am also setting an example by recruiting an apprentice myself.

The double-whammy benefit of apprenticeships ought to be
obvious: they provide a financially efficient way of bringing enthusiastic people
into work, and offer young apprentices personal and career development as they
learn a trade. Research shows that apprenticeships provide companies with
loyal, skilled staff who stay with them longer, and the NAS estimates that
apprentices earn £100,000 more over their careers than comparable job starters.

So my campaign aims to reinforce these positive messages, in
particular to local employers which, in the
Moorlands — where 80% of those in employment
work in the private sector — means mostly small
and medium size businesses. The increased Government support of £1,500
available through the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers could be just what’s
required to encourage them to take on an apprentice. I’ve
been really encouraged by the interest so far — from engineers to traditional
dry-stone wallers.

There have been previous such campaigns across the country
in the last two years and they have all been run differently, but with the same
cooperative principle: bringing colleges, local authorities and a local
newspaper together to promote apprenticeships with local business can make a
real difference.

There’s an important political issue here. This is a
positive policy that makes a real difference to economic growth and training. Like
many Coalition Government policies — I’d
include the Youth Contract and reforms to the benefits system, both of which
I've looked at in detail in my role on the Work and Pensions Select Committee —
it should get more coverage and more credit. John Hayes at BIS is doing a great
job in developing and pushing the policy, and
the Treasury is backing it. Like most Government work, it’s not glamorous and
it requires hard work to succeed, in this case hard work with a local focus. It
also requires people to work together — when we cooperate we succeed. That goes
for the Coalition at all levels.