Political foes unite to cheer EuroSkills Team UK

FErret witnesses an extraordinary love-in as the skills minister and her opposite number unite to wish Team UK well


Shadow FE minister Gordon Marsden and skills minister Anne Milton

In a break from clashes across the despatch box, it was all smiles in Parliament this afternoon when the skills minister and her opposite number presented a united front as they both stressed the importance of skills to the UK.

Labour’s shadow FE minister, Gordon Marsden, was hosting the 22 Team UK competitors who are preparing to fly out to Budapest to represent the country at EuroSkills 2018 at the end of the month, and he kindly invited his usual sparring partner along too.

Championing skills

Despite Mr Marsden accidentally being introduced as the "skills minister", there was no love lost between he or Anne Milton, with the real minister brushing the incident off with a laugh.

The Labour stalwart then continued the détente in his short speech: “Among the many things that Anne and I will agree about is that we want to see skills and everything that goes with it very much part of that post-18 review.”

FErret witnessed an extraordinary love-in between the pair

He told Team UK: “Just by being here as competitors, you have already done a great deal. You are already winners. Whatever happens, remember also you are there as ambassadors for the UK.

“You’re also there with your own personal stories and contributions and sacrifices to highlight the importance of skills and further education at a time when in this country the government is going to be poring over recommendations from the post-18 review.”

Unlikely allies

The Europe-wide skills competition clearly must engender a sense of entente cordiale, because minister Milton continued in a similar manner to Mr Marsden.

“For me, as a minister, skills is about productivity in the country," she said, adding: “It is about making sure everybody in the country, wherever you came from, whatever your background and whoever you know, you have a chance to get on the ladder.

“I think we are increasingly moving to a world where it doesn’t matter where you came from or where you started, or whether you went to university or whether you didn’t, or whether you became an apprentice at 16. What matters is what skills you can offer an employer and what matters to the government is that that employer will then be more productive.”

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Wash plumber out of your lair With all the furore about the cost of plumbers, people have been cashing in on the skills shortage in this area and signing up for career-changing courses. Now Filton college has launched a course, aimed at women, showing them how to do the plumbing at home without resorting to the Yellow Pages or their cheque books. So the game could soon be up for those hard-to-find professional plumbers, who are already feeling the pinch as a result of the expansion of professional plumbing courses. Filton college suggests that ignorance of plumbing is a female preserve - or perhaps that women will admit their limitations. Here's what FErret, using his in-built male expertise, would do if he came home from holiday to find the house turning into a scene from the Poseidon Adventure. 1) Turn off the stop-cock (after the future Mrs FErret has reminded him where it is). 2) Call a plumber!

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