09/08/18: Life beyond 'A' levels

Suffering the anxious run-up to A-Level results day is an experience I've endured both as a student and as a mum, and once again the hopes of a University place for thousands rest upon the outcomes on 16th August.

But times they are a changing and there has been a 3.4% decrease in demand this year with overall University applications down by 16,000.

I strongly subscribe to the aspiration of a university place being available for all who choose that path. It was the route I selected back in the 80s because, at the time, it was the best option for me to pursue my career choice as a solicitor. Today, however, there is a healthy range of alternative portals into most careers and professions and University is no longer the best option for many people. For example; first-class apprenticeships now offer a direct path into almost any industry you can think of; from construction to banking and from law to healthcare.

Apprentices can earn while they learn, become an integral part of the workplace and create important career relationships with employers. They also have the chance to gain academic qualifications right up to the level of a master's degree, so nothing is out of reach.

Earlier this year my neighbour Tracey Crouch MP and I hosted the first Maidstone Apprenticeships Fair at Maidstone Leisure Centre. The event was a resounding success with over 50 employers and 500 local students coming together. We will be running another early next year and I welcome all interested employers to get in touch as soon as possible and become a part of an opportunity revolution.

No one size fits all in education, and it is vital that we train our people with a wide range of skills across the full spectrum of the modern workplace. Apprenticeships are a crucial part of this and I will be continuing to bang the drum.


Helen's column is published weekly in the Kent Messenger. Please note the print version may differ from the content here.

Launch of flood management 'wetlands' project in Marden

Louise Smith from KCC, Farmer Peter Hall, Helen Grant MP, KCC Councillor Mike Hill and Julie Foley of the Environment Agency

A great step forward was taken for Medway River flood management at the launch of the Little Mill Farm wetlands project in Marden last weekend.

It is the fruit of an idea hatched by local farmer and land owner Peter Hall to harness natural processes to reduce flood risk further downstream. Measures include the use of 'intentionally leaky' small wooden dams to hold back water and slow the flow, the creation of temporary flood water storage areas and restoring river channels and natural meanders.

The project was supported and delivered by a wide range of stakeholders including the Environment Agency, Kent County Council, and Maidstone Borough Council.

Local MP Helen Grant has followed the progress of the project from its inception in November 2016 to the official launch this weekend. She said 'This is 'partnership working' at its best, with stakeholders all contributing resources and expertise to deliver a meaningful benefit for the community. I thank Peter Hall in particular for offering the use of four acres of his land for the 13,000 cubic metre Wetlands project and coming up with the vision. It is a great bonus for birds and other wildlife in the locality too'.

The launch event was designed to promote the idea to other local landowners and organisations who may take up grants for the idea with suitable land of their own. Over 50 people attended.

22 JUL 2018

Maidstone Mela 2018 remembers the passing of its founding father as MP Helen Grant calls for Borough Council support in coming years

The Maidstone Mela has been running since 2003 and was the brainchild of the late Cllr Morel D'Souza who passed away in April this year. His legacy was remembered at the event where a commemorative plaque was presented to Mr D'Souza's wife, Karin, in front...

20 JUL 2018

Helen Delves into the Den

Helen Grant MP paid a visit to the National Citizen Service project in Maidstone Town Centre last week. NCS is a nationwide programme for 15 to 17 year olds, which aims to build the confidence and self-belief of young people by providing them with...

20 JUL 2018

Helen Backs Playground Campaign

Helen Grant, Member of Parliament for Maidstone and the Weald, has thrown her support behind a campaign to win a new playground for a local Primary School. On a visit to Valley Invicta Primary at East Borough, Helen met with staff and students and pledged...

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With very best wishes


Helen's column

09 AUG 2018

Life beyond ‘A’ levels

Suffering the anxious run-up to A-Level results day is an experience I've endured both as a student and as a mum, and once again the hopes of a University place for thousands rest upon the outcomes on...

02 AUG 2018

Grass Roots Sport

Every now and then a sporting Champion emerges with a humility that belies their achievement. I'd include people like Sir Andy Murray, Sir Steve Redgrave and Dame Kelly Holmes in that category;...

26 JUL 2018

Plastic Pollution

Ever since last year's Blue Planet series, which so movingly and graphically depicted the impact that plastic is having on our oceans, the issue has never been far from the news agenda. There is no...