Many years ago, a woman walked up to Picasso at a restaurant and asked him to scribble a picture on a napkin. Picasso complied and then told her it was worth $10,000. “But you did that in just thirty seconds?” the woman said. “No,” Picasso responded, “it took me a lifetime.”
As Picasso’s story shows, learning a skill is essential for high, long term productivity. What is learned at school and at college takes much longer than thirty seconds, but the benefits are with us for a lifetime.
Our town will need engineers, plumbers, mechanics and electricians long into the future, and we are so fortunate to have Further Education institutions like Stamford and Grantham College that can act as the engine of local employment growth. These practical, vocational skills give our local people strong job prospects and help employers expand their businesses.
For example, take Jamie Clare from Iconic Engineering, who I spoke to this week. Although he was taught engineering skills at Grantham College several years ago, his skills have served him well for a lifetime and he now works with 3D printing and Computer Aided Design. This has allowed him not only to build a successful career and local business, he is contributing to our community by employing the next generation and campaigning to raise awareness of the need for more local engineers.
Emphasising the importance I place on skills, this week I asked the Secretary of State for Education in the House of Commons about skills and highlighted our brilliant Colleges. He reassured me of the Government’s commitment to investing in a skills revolution and that it is critical we move away from the presumption that every child should aspire to go to university - clearly, having the vocational skills acquired at a college are an equally important aspiration.
At the heart of the Government’s plan is the Lifetime Skills Guarantee. It does what it says on the tin, it is guaranteed to give everyone who wants it a professional skill. This includes a free college education for anyone of any age without an A level equivalent. This is funded through the £2.5 billion National Skills Fund which has been built to help us level up our economy. In addition there is the recently announced £1.5 billion of new capital spending for further education colleges to upgrade and expand facilities.
Boosting our local skills will increase our local jobs for the long term and that is something I am utterly committed to seeing achieved.