Duncan brought Baroness Shirley Williams to Wiltshire College in Chippenham, to meet students and staff and see their new building that’ll open in September.
As Education Secretary nearly 40 years ago, Shirley introduced vocational qualifications for which the students they met today still show enthusiasm.
Seven years ago, before Duncan was elected, he backed plans to rebuild Chippenham’s college. But local hopes were cruelly dashed when the previous Government lost control of its college building budget and abandoned the programme.
As our Member of Parliament, Duncan set out to make up for that disappointment. He championed the college’s new plans and its bid for Government funding to Ministers, even enlisting the Prime Minister’s support at Prime Minister’s Questions 18 months ago.
Last year, the Coalition Government awarded the college the grant it needed, and construction of the new building is now well underway.
The high-quality new facilities will allow more young people to undertake training there as part of their apprenticeships with local employers, especially in engineering.
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has invested heavily in apprenticeships, including 3,000 that started here in the Chippenham constituency since 2010. Duncan encourages the local employers he meets to take on as many apprentices as possible, having done so himself, and in the next Parliament the Liberal Democrats aim to double the number of employers who do so.
Great colleges enable apprentices to get the most out of their courses, and that’s why the Liberal Democrats are committed to protecting education funding all the way from early years to age 19. In contrast, the Conservatives’ plans would require cutting it by £5 billion a year, including taking £2 billion from sixth form and college budgets.