Express & Star

Minister and MP visit college to see how students and apprentices prepare for a bright, green future

Dudley College apprentices and staff welcomed a government minister and MP Marco Longhi as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

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Mr Longhi and the minister for energy, affordability and skills, Amanda Solloway, visited the Advance Building in Priory Road which has seen over 11,500 apprentices go through its programmes since 2010.

The building is state-of-the-art and staff cover a range of training programmes in electrical, construction, welding, mechanical and other trades. Students attend practical classes alongside working towards an on-the-job qualification.

Mrs Solloway gave welding a try and viewed the latest interactive and virtual reality technology which trains the engineers of the future.

Amanda Solloway MP with student JJ Benion

She also took part in a question & answer session in which students asked her about how the Government was encouraging and helping young people to take up apprenticeships and how they could become involved in meeting the Government's net zero target of 2050 by building a green workforce to deliver it.

Students at Dudley College's Advance campus took part in a question and answer session with minister for energy, affordability and skills Amanda Solloway as part of National Apprenticeship Week

The minister said: "I have visited a number of colleges as part of the National Apprenticeship Week and have been really impressed with the Dudley College Advance centre. It is a very impressive building and the range of trades and skills being taught with state of the art equipment and tutors who are committed to bringing them through ready for the world of work, which they are already experiencing in many cases.

o Goverment Minister for Energy Affordability and Skills :Amanda Solloway visited Dudley Council Here she meets Dudley College Principal Neil Thomas who accompanied her around the Advance Building

"This is traditionally a region steeped in heavy industry but employers and apprentices are embracing new ways of working for the future and we see the West Midlands as a whole, and other areas which have had to adapt, as crucial to a new way of working and a green future.

"We exchanged with the students some really good ideas about the Government's green initiatives around net zero such as the use of energy saving technology and new ways of working, and they were very open to them.

"But the college is also offering classes to more experienced people already in work but who want to up-skill, and it was good to talk to them as well.

Goverment Minister for energy, affordability and skills Amanda Solloway with student Darwin Sillito, aged 19

National Apprenticeship Week runs until Sunday and is the 17th annual celebration of apprenticeships in England.

Dudley North MP Mr Longhi said: "I was delighted to meet the students at the Advance campus which is the heartbeat of Dudley College as far as delivering apprenticeships are concerned and that is what we are celebrating and encouraging nationwide this week.

Student Jon Wood and lecturer Karl Bagley with MP Marco Longhi

"It allows them to earn whilst they are training and avoid the debt sometimes associated with going to university and that vocation can be anything from engineering to construction, from accounting to animal care and this is all available on their doorstep without them having to go away.

"There are now something like 700 various different routes into work and 5.5m apprenticeships have been created and I am keen to see the Government push and extend this problem even further going forward, which is certainly what the staff and management at Dudley College are trying to do."