THIS year's Bradford Manufacturing Weeks has been praised as an "excellent" initiative by Education secretary Gavin Williamson.

The two-week long scheme, which ends on Friday, is led by the Bradford Chamber of Commerce and aims to introduce the district’s manufacturers to young people to help boost apprenticeship numbers and showcase the range of career opportunities in the sector.

It is now on track to create 6,000 work experiences with 65 manufacturers - double the number of 2018. Forty five secondary schools are also participating in this year’s scheme.

The 2019 programme has included a 'Bradford Apprentices Live' event,, plus a 'Driver Awareness Day' in partnership with West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

It is sponsored by Barclays, Naylor Wintersgill, Gordons LLP, Mitton Group, Dale Carnegie UK, E3 Recruitment, the University of Bradford and Leeds Bradford Airport.

Mr Williamson, who studied at the University of Bradford, told the Telegraph & Argus:“Following on from last year’s success, I know Bradford Manufacturing Weeks can go from strength to strength, with more businesses and young people involved.

“In my speech to Conservative conference earlier this month, I said how apprenticeships and technical and vocational education are just as important and as valuable as going to university and are just as important to our economy.

"They can make sure Britain succeeds in the future."

He added: “And it is excellent projects like this that can show young people some of the exciting and valuable opportunities there and give them the belief that with the right help and support they can achieve anything they want.”

His comments follow last year's praise from then Prime Minister Theresa May.

Nick Garthwaite, event founder and managing director of Bradford-based laundry detergent manufacturer Christeyns, said: “It’s fantastic to receive support from the Government which further demonstrates that we are on absolutely the right track with our Bradford Manufacturing Weeks initiative.

"We have created a model that is working and most importantly, a model which gives young people an insight into the wonderful world of manufacturing and in many cases, it is proving a game changer in their career decision making process.”

He added: “That said, businesses, education providers and the Government have a lot more work to do to promote the apprenticeship programmes to make them become an even more attractive option. This is why Bradford Manufacturing Weeks is such an important part of our district’s business calendar and why we intend to grow the participants, the experiences and the momentum in years to come.”

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