BLACKPOOL South MP Gordon Marsden has addressed union delegates from across the North West about the challenges facing workers wanting to expand their skills and training.
Mr Marsden, who is shadow Further Education Minister, also warned the conference, held in Manchester, that Government plans to introduce a loans system for adult learners aged over 24 could deter women in particular from taking up opportunities.
He said: “Apprentice numbers of new starts under 19 years old have actually dropped by 3,000 across the North West in the past 12 months, which shows the need to get better structures in place to support young people into apprenticeships and the need for proper preparatory training for apprenticeships for those who are disadvantaged in applying.”
Mr Marsden also said the trade union movement had a major opportunity to expand its learning activities “over and beyond its existing membership”.
He added unions should “look at ways to work more closely with each other and with those in the voluntary sectors”.