UKIP MEP Margot Parker has given her support to National Apprentice Week. The East Midlands MEP and party spokesman for small business said that for too long skills had been neglected in the UK and an overhaul of the apprenticeship scheme was needed.
Margot Parker said: “National Apprentice Week is an important reminder of the need to provide skills-based education in order to prepare people for the workplace.
“For too long such skills have been neglected in the UK. While some measures have been taken recently to expand apprenticeships, especially those provided by small businesses, all too often many of the schemes do not actually prepare those involved for work or impart the necessary skills.
“We need a proper system of apprenticeships in this country, alongside educational reform which recognises vocational and technical education as equally important to pure academic models.
“This requires more fundamental changes and a more comprehensive approach than we have seen so far, but it is essential that our educational systems help prepare young people for work. The Germans have it right when it comes to this type of education and we could do worse than adopt a similar model.
“Small businesses have a huge part to play in making apprenticeships successful – they know what they are looking for in employees and can identify the skills that need to be taught. As they also provide 60 per cent of private sector employment, not to involve them and actually listen to what they want would be short-sighted.
“If we aspire to a large-scale and successfully apprenticeship system, businesses must have input into the schemes and indeed into the education system itself. The last thing we need is another government scheme manufactured to deliver nothing more than headline-grabbing figures and not real results that improve people’s lives.
She also attacked former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair for his views on the unemployed, saying: "I do not share Tony Blair’s opinion British people who are unemployed are in that position due to a lack of skills and due to their own failings at engaging with education system – I think the system is itself partly to blame, as is Mr Blair and the Labour Party from the long period during which they were in charge of the education system."