Prime Minister David Cameron was today visiting the West Midlands to issue a rallying cry calling for apprentices to kickstart the region’s economic recovery.
Mr Cameron has predicted the West Midlands can become the region’s skill centre - and insists apprenticeships will play a key part in this.
He wants a return to the days when the region was the ‘workshop of the world’ and ‘put Britain on the map’.
The visit is part of the Government’s drive to promote apprenticeships as an alternative to studying at university.
Mr Cameron said he wants every young person who does not go to university, to become an apprentice with a local company.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Mr Cameron said it was important to ‘nurture the potential’ of young people and added: “There is no better way to do that than getting them straight into the workplace, learning from employers as they pass down their skills from one generation to the next.”
It comes as work moves forward on the new £500m Jaguar Land Rover engine plant at the i54 business park near Wolverhampton, which will create 1,400 jobs.
More factory equipment will be installed in the coming months and test runs of engine production will begin next year.
The factory will produce smaller but more efficient four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines for a new generation of Jaguars and Land Rovers.
Earlier this year the plans were expanded to include the creation of a 250,000sq ft assembly hall, taking the company’s investment in the area from £355m to £500m.
The city was recently hit by the announcement that the council will axe 1,000 jobs over the next 18 months as the authority tries to find £89 million of savings.
The council has said it aims to create 3,000 jobs in the ‘Stafford Road corridor’, in addition to those at i54 site, which is part of the Black Country Enterprise Zone, by 2026, by attracting investment from the private sector.
Potential sites being looked at are land bordered by Wobaston and Bankhurst Lane, Pendeford; the area around the Goodyear regeneration site; Wolverhampton Science Park; and Park Village and Fallings Park.