Congratulations to all of those students who received their GCSEs last week, and A-Level results the week before. I wish them all the best of luck as they either continue their time in education, or begin their journey from school and college into the wider world. I would also like to thank teachers in Gloucestershire for their part in helping our students achieve their goals.
For some, the next step will be university. This year, applications to university are very strong – with around 37% of 18 year olds applying for university -, with the highest ever application rate for people from less well-off backgrounds. There are now more university places available for aspirational students after the Government’s decision to remove the cap on available places two years ago.
Others will take their first steps into the world of work. The state of the job market is continually improving. Figures released last week show that there are 78,000 fewer young people unemployed than the year before, with youth unemployment close to historically low levels, and down to nearly half the level it was during the financial crisis. Since 2010, there are 3 million more people in work across the workforce.
This is in no small part due to the great work of our local businesses, recruiting and training young people on the job, both through normal contracts and through Apprenticeships. The Government has made great strides to promote and improve the quality of Apprenticeships as an alternative route into work.
These schemes are an excellent way for young people to get their first foot on the employment ladder while also gaining important industry experience. Every young person leaving school should compare an apprenticeship or going to university on equal terms. I am glad employers are now in control of creating new standards which is driving up the quality of apprenticeships.
Education and training will open doors for young people and allow them to develop their own unique talents and skills which they will need to succeed in a 21st century workplace. Delivering the best schools and training is a vital part of our long-term economic plan and will ensure every young person, regardless of background, has the opportunity to realise their full potential.