On Friday I visited the Apprenticeship stand in Bury’s Millgate Centre. Manned by a consortium of local providers the stand provided an excellent opportunity for both would be apprentices and potential apprentice employers to find out what is involved in a modern apprenticeship. I say modern apprenticeship because nowadays apprenticeships cove far, far more than the traditional skills associated with apprenticeships from two or three decades ago.
I belive it is very important that we all value those who take an apprenticeship just as highly as those who continue academic study to degree level. Being highly skilled in a trade is just as important to our community is just as useful and important as someone who has continued academic studies to degree level.
As regular readers will know I try and make a point of visiting local businesses both to find out how things are at the ‘coalface’ and to give local employers the chance to tell me at first hand of any problems they have.One of most recent visits took me back to a company who are the biggest private sector employer in my constituency – O2 who have a customer care centre on Dumers Lane. I have visited the site several times before and I am always given a warm welcome and I always come away impressed at how determined the Company is to provide the best customer service possible. The development of mobile telephones over the years means that when customers ring up their queries are much more complex than they used to be. Whereas at one time callers might want advice on how to change their ringtone or update their billing details nowadays, as mobiles phones have become effectively mini-computers the person who answers the customers call is expected to be able to handle any number of different queries across hundreds of different handsets.
Not only do O2 take extra care to look after their customers they also go out of their way to look after their staff. Not only Take care of their customers and their staff they take a special interest in helping the local community through their Think Big project.
As part of my recent visit to O2 I met with their Think Big Team who explained some of the many projects they have been involved with in the past year and they are fizzing with ideas for the future. Check out the Think Big website here.
I know how many people continue to be concerned at the delay in re-opening the Bury Driving Test Centre. It’s closure has resulted in increased costs and anxiety for learner drivers and enormous problems for instructors. I was originally told it would re-open by the end of 2011. Then I was told it would re-open in February 2012. Clearly this is not now going to happen. Understandably the continued closure led to speculation that the centre would never re-open. I have asked about the future of the Centre in the House of Commons, put down official Written Parliamentary Questions and written to the Minister at the Department of Transport. The latest letter I have had from Mike Penning the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Transport is dated 8th February and states that the Driving Standards Agency now expects work to begin in late February and they aim to re-open the Centre in late March.
UPDATE 20th Feb: I have now received a reply to my Written Parliamentary Question which states “The driving test centre at Bury is expected to reopen by the end of March 2012. The reopening has been delayed as there was a need for structural and asbestos surveys prior to issuing contract tenders. Works are forecast to begin in late February 2012 and will be completed in late March 2012.”
I have paid for an upgrade to the website which hopefully should mean the removal of any advertisements appearing on the site.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the death of King George the Sixth and the accession of his daughter Elizabeth to become our Monarch Queen Elizabeth the Second.
I believe the example the Queen has sent is a tremendous example of public service. The Queen has been a focus of unity and stability in a changing world for six decades.Her reign has spanned the careers of twelve Prime Ministers and her achievement is one which everyone can be justly proud of.
Today is Kashmir Solidarity Day and yesterday I attended a meeting organised by the Jammu Kashmir Self Determination Movement at the Jinnah Day Care Centre on Alfred Street in Bury to mark the event.
The disputed area between India and Pakistan has been a cause of friction since 1947 and continues to be a matter of great concern to the members of the Pakistani community in Bury many of whom have families in the Kashmir area.