Speaker’s Corner: ‘Apprenticeship hard work starting to pay off’

Speaker's Corner: Mike Penning MP
Speaker's Corner: Mike Penning MP

I have always been committed to supporting and helping local businesses to grow and help from the Government on cutting National Insurance Contributions, lowering rates of corporation tax, reducing fuel duty and abolishing red tape is contributing.

All these measures help our businesses to keep their costs down to support job creation and growth.

When visiting local businesses, I am seeing more and more who are in a position to expand, move to larger premises and take on more staff and apprentices.

This past week I have visited several, including Mechanix Direct in Apsley’s Kents Avenue where I met with owner Gavin Woodley to discuss the challenges facing his business and his plans for the future.

There are changes in vehicle registration in the UK and Europe and it is always good to hear first-hand how these will impact on local businesses.

Despite the recession, Gavin has been able to expand his business into new larger premises which means they can now service cars and vans.

The Apsley Industrial Estate is firmly establishing itself as a hub for independent vehicle MoT, servicing and parts companies, with six companies already on the site.

Another Dacorum business that is undergoing expansion and rebranding is the Red Squirrel Brewing Company at Boxted Farm, between Warners End and Potten End.

I was very pleased to be invited to officially re-open the brewery after the refurbishment and thoroughly enjoyed a pint of their ‘London Porter’ afterwards!

The brewery’s ‘London Porter’ ale was recently judged bronze in its category in the 2013/14 London and South East Area Champion Beer of Britain competition and CAMRA presented the award at the re-opening.

Vertex Solutions is a specialist IT recruitment business that is continuing to grow. They work with technology companies all across Europe from their headquarters in Paradise, Hemel Hempstead.

They are currently looking to increase the number of trainee and experienced recruitment consultants.

Last week I spent an enjoyable morning visiting Lime Grove Day Nursery in Park Road who have just completed a seven month building and refurbishment project.

The nursery has twice been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and it is great to see them investing in their future and the future of our children.

It was interesting learning about their business where all staff have a stake in the business as employee owners.

I am particularly keen to promote apprenticeships and am delighted that more local companies are taking on apprentices. The number of companies and organisations employing apprentices in the constituency is steadily increasing. In 2010/11 250 businesses employed apprentices, that then rose to 310 in 2011/12 and for the financial year 2012/13 the figure was 360.

From talking to business owners, I know that many smaller businesses have been worried about taking on additional administration. This is why we have worked hard to make apprenticeships both simpler for businesses and of better quality for the apprentices. I am pleased that this seems to be paying off.