Qualifications are more important than ever as young people compete for good jobs
LAST week, for my family like many others, the waiting was over and GCSE results revealed.
Congratulations to all those young people who worked hard for their grades and well done to the teachers and families who have supported them.
While education is important in its own right, well- respected academic and vocational qualifications are more important than ever because, compared to previous generations, there are far fewer unskilled jobs.
There is also much greater competition for good jobs in our more globalised economy.
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The standard of living that many people want requires an income that can be earned from skilled employment or creating a new enterprise. When I was at Falmouth School, the opportunities locally for well-paid employment, outside the public sector, were very limited. If you wanted to get on, you had to leave Cornwall, first for higher education then for a good job. Exeter was the closest university.
Now Exeter, along with Plymouth and Falmouth universities offer a wide range of subjects on their own campuses or in partnership with our local, first-class colleges of further education right here in Cornwall.
While a university education is essential for some careers, it is not for everyone.
I am proud that Conservatives in the coalition have championed high quality apprenticeships for people of all ages. A vocational education through the apprenticeship approach should be valued as much as a university education. And, of course, the higher level apprenticeships can lead to university too.
I am delighted that since 2010 there are more than 1,800 apprenticeships in my constituency alone.
Every month I meet local employers from manufacturing, high-end engineering, computer communications, marine engineering to renewables who are doing well and growing their businesses.
These are skilled jobs with decent wages and good prospects.
I also meet local businesses from the creative industries, as well as more traditional food and drink manufacturers which are developing new products and new markets around the world. All want to employ skilled local people.
As we rebalance our economy away from dependence on London and the South East, into making more things, growing more food and generating more of our own energy, as well as exporting more to growing parts of the world economy, it is essential that our youngsters are studying subjects needed for the new opportunities and new jobs in the UK and around the world.
I am pleased that more local youngsters have obtained maths, science and technology qualifications. I have seen too much poverty of aspiration for Cornish young people and am determined that no one is left behind because they live in a certain place.