7 Kent MPs have welcomed the return of the Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair which took place last week.
The annual event was hosted by Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford), Helen Grant (Maidstone and the Weald), Helen Whately (Faversham and Mid Kent), Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling), Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells), Laura Trott (Sevenoaks), and Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey).
Over 1,500 students from 32 schools across Kent attended the Fair, now in its fifth year, at the Maidstone Leisure Centre on Friday 10 March.
They met nearly 70 employers from a wide range of sectors – including construction, finance, healthcare, hospitality, the military, and many more. This included large national employers like Amazon, BAE Systems and the NHS, through to local employers like Shepherd Neame and Gallagher Group.
The Fair is targeted at students in years 11 to 13, and aims to showcase what apprenticeships can offer as an alternative to going to university. Some of the employers were joined by apprentices who had started their careers as a result of previous years’ fairs.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who started her career as an apprentice at a car factory, described the event as “brilliant chance for young people in Kent” [full quote below].
Helen Grant MP comments: “At this year’s biggest ever Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair we had an absolutely fantastic turnout, from over 1,500 eager students, and 70 outward-looking employers and businesses.
“I know many wonderful new careers will be started as a result of this, our 5th Fair, and it is great to work together with six other Kent MP colleagues for the benefit of our many young constituents.”
Helen Whately MP comments: “This fair is always one of the highlights of my year. It’s great to see local students’ eyes being opened to some of the brilliant opportunities out there.
“University can be a good option but it’s far from the only one. Apprenticeships are a fast-track to develop skills while working and earning, and you can find them across all kinds of sectors.
“Leaving school and entering the world of work is a big step in all of our lives. The more students know about what’s out there, the better they can plan their future.”
Tracey Crouch MP comments: “The Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair continues to grow year on year, and I was pleased that more of my Kent colleagues have joined to support young people in their own constituencies, learn about the vast array of companies and organisations that offer apprenticeships.
“I was delighted to speak with Scott and Louie, who both came to a previous Apprenticeship Fair, got an apprenticeship at their respective companies, are doing exceptionally well in their work and came back to the Fair on Friday as advocates for apprenticeships.
“It makes me very proud to have been a part of their journey, and I hope to hear of similar stories in the future, from the young people who attended last week.”
Tom Tugendhat MP comments: “We all know that Apprenticeships give people the opportunity to learn a trade or skill while being paid a good wage.
“It was inspiring to chat to so many students excited about their prospects, as well as current apprentices who love the jobs they do, one of whom finding their apprenticeship from our very own Apprenticeship Fair.
“It is fantastic to see the Fair go from strength to strength each year and I only look forward to seeing what more we can do for the younger generations in our communities and around the UK.”
Laura Trott MP comments: “Apprenticeships are such an important way to both gain a qualification and earn at the same time.
“And, it was brilliant to see just how many options are available locally to those who wish to pursue this route – including UK Power Networks in Sundridge and FM Conway in Sevenoaks. The atmosphere was truly buzzing and it was fantastic to be involved.”
Gordon Henderson MP comments: “I was pleased to join with a number of other Kent MPs to support the Maidstone Apprentice fair.
“I believe there has been a tendency in the past to concentrate on sending ever increasing numbers of young people to university, where many of them take part in courses that do not prepare them for the workplace.
“Instead, I think we should make it easier for youngsters to take up an apprenticeship, which not only provides them with training that gives them a valuable vocation skill, but also gives them experience in the workplace and enhances their life skills.”
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan comments: “My apprenticeship was my golden ticket to the world of business and laid the foundations for the career I’ve had since. Whatever path young people are thinking about, from medicine to space engineering, there’s an apprenticeship to help them get there.
“Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to earn while you learn and provide a springboard into the world of work. The Maidstone Apprenticeship Fair is a brilliant chance for young people in Kent to hear more about the opportunities available to them and get advice about how an apprenticeship can help them make their next step.””