As the local MP and Shadow Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Gordon has warned that economic uncertainty caused by leaving the European Union could scupper the prospects for a major expansions of apprenticeships and other training and skills opportunities for young people across Blackpool and the Fylde Coast.
Brexit would be at the very least “highly disruptive and potentially disastrous for FE and Skills, he said. In an interview with the national Times Education Supplement (TES), as Labour’s Shadow Business Minister Gordon backed up concerns from the Government’s Skills Minister who earlier this week suggested that a vote to leave the European Union could put the new apprenticeship levy, designed to produce major expansion, in jeopardy.
Gordon added that the overall consequences for skills and training could be even more severe given the economic uncertainty which could result from a “leave” vote in next week’s referendum may make employers far less willing to hire or expand the number of apprentices. This could put the aim of creating 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 at risk.
“There’s even more of a question about the Government’s objective of creating 3 million apprenticeships by that date. I think they would struggle if we quit the EU,” Gordon said.
Commenting further after the TES article appeared, Gordon said: “This is a really crucial issue for us In Blackpool and across the Fylde. That’s why I’ve spoken out on it. We’ve seen already the big falls in the stock market worried about Brexit and warnings by the Bank of England and Labour’s former Chancellor Alistair Darling about the impact leaving the EU would have on the UK in terms of a £40 billion black hole on public spending.
“Brexit would be highly disruptive and potentially disastrous for training, skills and apprenticeships. It’s not just large employers like BAE Systems here in Lancashire hugely dependent on international markets and co-operative ventures with EU counterparts on civil and defence aircraft projects who could affected. It’s also the knock-on impact disruption that Brexit could have on the supply chain companies and small enterprises and businesses feeding them. At the very least it could freeze existing training and recruitment for jobs and apprenticeships. At worst it could send them into sharp decline.
“Over the last six months, I’ve been going round as Shadow Higher and Further Education Minister talking nationally to business organisations in manufacturing, high tech, science sectors – including tourism and also related sectors vital to Blackpool’s economy about the prospects for expanding skills and apprenticeships. I have talked to dozens of young men and women from all over the country doing apprenticeships at present. All of those groups and people at whatever level have stressed how they value co-operation within Europe.
“Quitting the EU would be a huge act of negativity, undermining that confidence and our economic position. It could blight the hopes and futures of hundreds of young people across Blackpool and the Fylde wanting to do apprenticeships.”