New Venture for Aylesbury Training GroupMarch 2, 2010
First port of call this morning was to the Aylesbury Training Group centre in Smeaton Close. ATG has been operating in Aylesbury for more than 40 years. It is a not-for-profit organisation that runs training courses aimed primarily at young people. What has always impressed me about ATG is its restlessness for innovation. While still providing some fairly traditional engineering training courses, it has also branched out into cycle repair and maintenance, motorsport and information technology.
Today they invited me to help launch their new status as a Microsoft Academy. ATG had found that while it was able to turn out good students with IT qualifications, local employers kept on asking whether those students were certified by Microsoft to carry out work on that company’s software. Quite naturally, employers wanted to take on people who would be able to deal straight away with a standard software which they used in their firm. The trouble was, but government funded courses like NVQs cannot be tilted towards any one particular commercial brand and so those courses did not provide me Microsoft-specific qualifications for which Aylesbury companies were looking. So ATG got itself approved as a Microsoft IT Academy so that it could offer its students in the Microsoft qualification as well as they stand on one. Result: more young people in Aylesbury with the skills that employers want.
One thing that I see in my travels as a shadow foreign minister, is that the countries of Asia, the Middle East and Latin America aren’t planning to compete with us just that the low skill, low paid work. All of the emerging economies are pursuing strategies designed to increase the number of their young people who are trained and qualified to do high skill, high value work. If we are going to continue to attract jobs and investment to Britain, we have got to be on our competitive toes. We could do with many more enterprises like ATG.