BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable said the Coalition Government was committed to reducing the North-South economic divide, as he visited Yorkshire to bang the drum for a new apprenticeship programme.
His visit took him to the unlikely setting of the Woolpack, the pub which is the mainstay of the fictional village of Emmerdale. During his tour of the ITV studios in Leeds, Mr Cable discovered how apprentices are helping to produce one of Britain’s most popular soaps.
The visit was in support of the Government’s new campaign calling on more young people to choose an apprenticeship.
The campaign coincides with the introduction of 40 new employer-designed apprenticeships in sectors including engineering, hospitality and the legal profession. Mr Cable said that apprenticeships were “part of the solution” to youth unemployment.
He added: “The unemployment position in the UK is improving a lot. We’ve now got one of the lowest levels of unemployment in the developed world. But there are still too many people out of work.
“All the evidence shows that people who do a good apprenticeship scheme prosper in life. It’s this combination of a job and training which is particularly valuable.”
Mr Cable said a lot of lessons had been learned since the financial crash of 2008.
“One of the big reforms I helped to push through with the Chancellor was splitting the banks into their so-called casinos and retail operations. They are now ring-fenced within the same institution. That makes them less risky. I grew up in York and we used to talk about the North-South divide then, it’s a very persistent problem.. We are trying in Government to offset that. The Regional Growth Fund has played a major role in it. Some of the City Deals that cities like Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield have been developing are helping to act as a powerful magnet in the North of England.”
Mr Cable toured Siemens Mechanical Drives and Arla Foods before rounding off the trip with a visit to translating company thebigword’s HQ in Leeds. At Siemens, the Mr Cable was able to meet apprentices working in the company’s Leeds factory.