Yesterday in Parliament I attended a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the UK aerospace industry. It was great to see a very positive debate demanding full cross-party support. All members understood the need for skills and investment. As Britain has the second biggest aerospace industry in the world it is vital that we continue to support, invest and grow it; the industry is critical to Burnley as many jobs rely on it.
Currently, even if Airbus doesn’t get another order, they have enough work to keep them going for the next 9 years. I raised the issue about skills and careers advice. The first step in encouraging young people to go into apprenticeships and engineering is careers advice at school. We have a shortage of engineers and a large skills gap we need to fill desperately; it is vital that young people are given proper careers advice early on.
I also commended the craft parts of the industry which are important as although plenty of young people wish to be involved in design and the high-tech part, the craft side is also extremely critical. The big companies such as Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems and Airbus, are now training more than the necessary number of apprentices for the benefit of their supply chains. I raised the point that some of the bigger companies should be getting on board and doing the same for the smaller companies in the supply chain.
Manufacturing is fundamental to the economic recovery and I am pleased that in Burnley in particular, the manufacturing sector is booming.