Harriet Harman and Ed Balls, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, have made a surprise joint visit to a Coleshill company. The duo met apprentices and toured the motor components manufacturing company Sertec on the Coleshill Business Park. They came to see the company at the request of Labour Candidate for Parliament Mike O’Brien.
Harriet Harman said, “I was delighted to visit Sertec. Mike had visited the company a few weeks ago and suggested that Ed Balls and I come along because he was so impressed with what they were doing on apprenticeships. I met the apprentices and I was also pleased to be able to spend time talking with ten women who work in the business. I heard from the women about the pressures they are under with the cost of living crisis and issues of child care.”
It was the second visit by Ed Balls to Coleshill in recent months. He met had small business leaders in the town in March. Ed Balls said, “Sertec is a key part of the car components industry in the West Midlands, which is so crucial to the success of the UK economy. It has strong links to Jaguar Land Rover. Mike asked me to see how Sertec was expanding and talk about the need to create an expansion of opportunities for apprenticeships. Everyone knows that Labour intends to cut university tuition fees from £9000 a year to £6000, but our plans on apprenticeships have had less publicity. Yet apprenticeships are key to Britain’s future.
“I met the young apprentices at Sertec, who have had great training, are well qualified and have a fantastic future ahead of them. Sertec has done a good job with them. Labour wants every school leavers who have the qualifications to get a chance of an apprenticeship like those at Sertec. We must reverse the national decline in apprenticeships.”
The Sertec Operations Manager Joe O’Shea showed the visitors around and introduced them to staff and the apprenticeships. He recalled that when he was training in manufacturing three decades ago, there were hundreds of tool making apprenticeships at the old British Leyland. He stressed the importance of UK industry rebuilding apprenticeship training and attracting young school leavers to a manufacturing career.
Harriet Harman met a group of women employees and focused on child care. Ms Harman said, “I want hard working families to know we are on their side. We will increase the free child care for 3 and 4 year olds from 15 hours a week to 25 hours a week. We will fund this from a tax on banker’s bonuses. But we also want every school age child to have access to school based child care from 8 am to 6pm. There will be a fee for this, but it is crucial to enable parents to have the choice of doing a full days work knowing their child is safely cared for at school. It will help thousands of families in North Warwickshire and its important know about them.
“Mike and his wife Alison, are friends of mine, but more importantly I am glad to come to Coleshill because Mike has always been a strong supporter of better child care and more help for women who work. I am so glad Mike has decided to stand here in North Warwickshire and Bedworth. We need him back in Parliament.
Mike O’Brien said, “I had visited Sertec a few weeks ago and I was so impressed that I wanted Harriet and Ed to see what was going on. Building business prosperity and good quality jobs for people is at the centre of my plan for North Warwickshire and Labour’s vision for the country. Harriet and Ed enjoyed meeting people at Sertec and they learnt a lot about how things could be done in the future.”