Earlier today, Her Majesty The Queen delivered the Queen’s Speech – setting out measures the Government intends to pass in the coming Parliamentary session.
A particular highlight for me are the plans for a new Lifetime Skills Guarantee, giving people the skills they need for well-paid jobs and opportunities to train throughout their lifetime. It is important that we move past the outdated notion that there is only one route up the career ladder, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to retrain or improve their skills at any point in their lives.
That is why the new legislative measures set out today will enable a new student finance system to transform the current student loans system, give employers a statutory role in planning publicly-funded training programmes with education providers, and give the Government more powers to intervene in colleges that fail to meet local needs.
Here in the Forest of Dean, we are already seeing the benefits from increased investment in skills. On top of the new Gloucestershire College campus in Cinderford that I worked hard to get the money for, we are also seeing work continuing on Hartpury University’s Agri-Tech initiative as well as the AccXel construction skills accelerator centre, co-funded by Cinderford’s KW Bell Ltd as well as the Government.
These are tangible examples of the taxpayer’s investment in skills here in the Forest, so I am pleased to see more opportunities on their way.
There were also measures announced to extend 5G mobile coverage and gigabit capable broadband as part of a package of measures to improve national infrastructure, including improving connectivity by rail and bus. It’s important that the progress already made on rolling out good quality broadband here in the Forest is maintained and improved.
Just two months ago, the Forest was one of two areas in Gloucestershire to benefit from over £1.3 million from the Rural Mobility Fund, trialling demand responsive bus services to ensure that public transport better meets the needs of local communities in the South of the Forest. This was from a bid made by the Conservative County Council administration, supported by me as the local MP.
Measures were also announced to continue investing in new green industries to create jobs, while protecting the environment. The UK is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and will continue to lead the way internationally by hosting the COP26 Summit in Glasgow. Legislation will set binding environmental targets.
This year, the UK will also host the G7 Summit in Cornwall and lead the global effort to secure a robust economic recovery from the pandemic.