Lib Dem candidate claims 'dire apprenticeships record' in Harrogate undermines Rishi Sunak's General Election pledge

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The Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dem candidate hoping to take Andrew Jones’s seat at the General Election has slammed Rishi Sunak’s pledge this week to replace ‘rip-off’ degrees with skilled apprenticeships saying the Government’s record on the issue in our area has been disastrous.

Tom Gordon’s damning remarks come after new Lib Dem analysis of House of Commons Library research showed that 300 starting apprentices have been lost in the Harrogate and Knaresborough constituency in less than a decade.

Mr Gordon says the figures show a fall from 930 in 2015/16 to 630 in 2022/23, the last reporting period.

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“This collapse shows our young people are being let down,” said Mr Gordon.

Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dem candidate Tom Gordon questions the entire validity of Rishi Sunak’s well-publicised new policy to boost apprentice numbers. (Picture contributed)Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dem candidate Tom Gordon questions the entire validity of Rishi Sunak’s well-publicised new policy to boost apprentice numbers. (Picture contributed)
Harrogate and Knaresborough Lib Dem candidate Tom Gordon questions the entire validity of Rishi Sunak’s well-publicised new policy to boost apprentice numbers. (Picture contributed)

"Words are easy but, in reality, skill shortages are worsening nationally.

"It shows just how badly broken this Conservative government has left our apprenticeship system.”

Mr Gordon questions the entire validity of Rishi Sunak’s well-publicised new policy to boost apprentice numbers by cutting undefined so-called “low value” or “Mickey Mouse” university degree courses.

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He claimed figures showed the Tories had failed spectacularly on apprenticeships with apprentice start numbers in England having fallen by 35%, or 172,000, with the situation worst for young people in the 16 to 19 age bracket.

Calling for reform not words, Mr Gordon praised the commitment by the Liberal Democrats to increase the apprenticeship wage to stop treating apprentices as second-class citizens.

“We must stop the decline under this Conservative government by reforming the apprenticeship levy and paying apprentices at least the minimum wage."