The education secretary has visited the area to champion the work of the government to boost apprenticeships.

Gillian Keegan MP, Secretary of State for Education visited the new Earley and Woodley constituency to speak with Virgin Media 02 apprentices.

The visit was undertaken to promote Apprenticeships Week, an initiative to raise awareness of the many benefits of apprenticeships as an alternative to university or other further studies.

She was welcomed at Green Park by councillor Pauline Jorgensen, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for the new constituency.

Cllr Jorgensen (Conservative, Hillside) said: “It is great to have the Secretary of State for Education visit Earley and Woodley to visit local businesses, highlight the key work that her Department is doing to promote apprenticeships across the country, and show the impact that apprenticeships have locally on job creation and supporting working people.

“Having worked in business my whole life, and having set up my own apprenticeship schemes within global firms, I know the incredible value that apprenticeships bring in delivering skills for people in this constituency and across the country.

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“Apprentices bring huge value to employees and businesses, and mean that people can get into the workplace, learn new skills, and access employment in an increasingly wide range of sectors.

“Businesses right across the Earley and Woodley constituency rely on apprentices within their workforce, both small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and large businesses – including Virgin Media, who we visited.

“I welcome the Secretary of State’s visit to celebrate Apprenticeships Week.

“The Conservative Government supports employees and employers in this area, and I stand by the Secretary of State’s commitment to building a skilled workforce as a key driver of delivering more productivity across the country.”

The Virgin Media O2 headquarters are located in Green Park, which is in the Whitley ward of Reading Borough and the Earley and Woodley constituency.

On the day, cllr Jorgensen and Mrs Keegan were shown how to splice a fibreoptic cable in a residential street.

Mrs Keegan, the education secretary, said: “I was delighted to visit the constituency to meet with our candidate Pauline, the Virgin Media team, and their brilliant apprentices.

“Earley and Woodley has some incredibly important large employers, as well as wealth of vital SMEs who reply on apprentices to deliver goods and services across the constituency, the country and internationally.

Reading Chronicle: Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, with councillor Pauline Jorgensen and Virgin Media O2 apprentices ahead of Apprenticeships Week. Credit: Gillian KeeganGillian Keegan, the education secretary, with councillor Pauline Jorgensen and Virgin Media O2 apprentices ahead of Apprenticeships Week. Credit: Gillian Keegan (Image: Gillian Keegan, the education secretary)

“I am pleased to be able to visit the constituency ahead of Apprenticeship Week to see this great work, and signal the Government’s commitment to delivering for apprentices, employers and economic growth.

“Supporting employers and employees is a key plank of this Government’s ambitions, and we are delivering for people in Early and Woodley, and right across the country.

“Working with colleagues right across Government, I am sure that our commitment to delivering more apprentices will get more people into work, support our local businesses, and drive further economic growth.”

Mrs Keegan is the Conservative MP for Chichester.