I am very grateful indeed for this incredibly special present to remind me of a most enjoyable visit to Jaguar Land Rover, where I think I have probably successfully interrupted everybody's normal course of activities.
But I've been so impressed during the course of the visit to hear about the enormous success of Jaguar Land Rover and the immense contribution it's making to this country's reputation and indeed to exports all over the world.
So the fact that there is such enormous demand for such a highly developed product is I think a huge tribute to all those people who have put so much effort and skill and dedication into producing these remarkable cars, so we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to all these very brilliant engineers and others who I have seen today.
Of course it is particularly enjoyable for me to meet so many young who are going through different sorts of initiatives and schemes to try and demonstrate the possibilities that lie in the field of engineering and manufacturing. So often it seems that we have forgotten in this country that Britain is very good at manufacturing and has all sorts of remarkable skills of ingenuity and inventiveness and how to turn brilliant ideas into production so this I hope, with all the different initiatives that are going on, will I hope to remind how much potential there is in this whole field of engineering.
As a country, we are rightly proud of our industrial heritage, but we should also celebrate our continued success as the standard bearer of quality manufacturing and engineering throughout the world. From car production to quality shoe-making, from precision engineering to traditional craft-skills, Britain is truly a global leader.
Of course, we must also be careful to invest in that manufacturing heritage by ensuring the sector has access to enough talented young people, with the necessary skills, to help these companies grow.
That is why I am so delighted today to be able to announce that the U.K. Commission for Employment and Skills has awarded £2.45 million to my Business in the Community's Business Class programme. This money will allow for the enhancement and, more importantly, the expansion of this already successful programme led by Paul Drechsler, Chairman and Chief Executive of Wates Group and his team of Business Leaders including JLR, BP, Prudential, Goldman Sachs and UBS. So Business Class really is making the most enormous difference by reaching children in some of the most challenged schools in the United Kingdom. 66% of partnerships are based in the top 33% most deprived communities across the country.”¬”ª
So I particularly wanted to use this opportunity to thank Charlie Mayfield who chairs UKCES and his team for their marvellous support which will allow us to help so many more young people.”¬”ª I am also delighted to be able to launch the national roll-out of my Industrial Cadets initiative, which started off as a vague idea of mine and which is being so ably championed by Tata Steel and run by the Educational Development Trust. Some of the participants have fought their way across the Pennines from Redcar to be here today. I just hope that some of them aren't stranded in a snow drift half way across on the way back.
This idea came about when I visited Redcar Steelworks a few years ago, which had been mothballed while Tata looked for a potential buyer. While I was there I just thought perhaps with empty facilities it might be a possibility to use some of those facilities plus some of the retired or redundant employees to help encourage young people in the whole area of engineering, who maybe had some ambition or even no ambition to go into manufacturing as a career. It struck me that if we could further encourage young people about the opportunities that were available and if they could see at first-hand what it means to work in a modern manufacturing factory, we might then make some progress.
I am enormously grateful to the Secretary of State for his support for this initiative, which, I am sure, will help many of our most deprived communities. ”¬”ªIn these difficult economic times, it is all too easy to be gloomy about our prospects as a manufacturing nation. But the truth is there are a very great number of outstanding success stories and we need to do all we can to support these companies.
So today is a day to do just that and to congratulate all those who play such an important part in our manufacturing sector.