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Opinion: We must continue to invest in skills

PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 February 2019

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

Julia Lopez was elected as Hornchurch & Upminster's locap MP at the 2017 General Election.

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My Recorder column last February focused on skills as critical to making Brexit a success.

Access to a pool of 500 million EU workers has for too long allowed businesses and successive governments to import skills rather than invest in training our own workforce.

In Havering, 53pc of adults do not have A-level equivalent qualifications – a higher percentage than any other London borough – and I believe we can do more to match the needs of employers to our talents

I have continued meeting businesses, educators and other employers to join up our local skills agenda and attract investment into our borough. This has included active support for the council’s bid for a Heathrow logistics hub on the Beam Reach site, which I believe could trigger major investment in construction and engineering skills.

Last month I brought big east London employers together to see how to make best use of that site - regardless of the Heathrow bid’s success. By making Beam Reach a centre for training, we could provide a local workforce for big projects like the Lower Thames Crossing or Havering’s estate regeneration programme.

London’s digital economy is booming, but many adults do not have the right skills to benefit from it.

This week my team and I brought Google’s Digital Garage Bus to Drapers’ Brookside Primary, Harold Hill, to give parents free digital training while their children were in school.

I also met executives at Queen’s Hospital about training the next generation of doctors and nurses.

Becoming a nurse associate, for instance, is a great new way to get into the profession without first requiring a formal nursing degree. Meanwhile my ongoing work with the RAF has opened my eyes to the huge range of careers in the military and I hope to bring their recruitment advisors to local schools.

I want as many people as possible in Havering not only to benefit from a rewarding local career but to be able to access those opportunities in the first place.

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