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19 January 2012, 16:47
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has visited Cambridge.
Mr Clegg [pictured - right], Lib Dem leader, met young apprentices at Cambridge Regional College and toured the college's carpentry and brick-laying workshops, to see how apprenticeship schemes are benefiting young people.
Mr Clegg said: "In a place like Cambridge which is so famous for its university, it's worth remembering that vocational skills and vocational qualifications should be supported, cherished and celebrated just as much as a university degree.
That's the kind of thing that we need as a country - university degrees are great but we also need people with vocational, practical skills that are essential in the future of our economy.
Apprenticeships are absolutely crucial.
That's the reason why, even in these difficult times when we've had to make so many controversial cuts and savings, we've actually put hundreds of millions of pounds of public money into expanding the number of apprenticeships.
There will be around a quarter of a million more apprentices during the course of this Parliament than the number planned by the previous Labour government.
We've got to support non-university vocational qualifications just as much as we support higher education degrees.
Employers say to me they would take on more young people, if only they had the right skills.
So it's crucial the government works hand in glove with colleges like this so that young people do have the right skills, because that in turn will help them find work.
I think Cambridge Regional College is a real model of the kind of expanded apprenticeship approach that I would like to see up and down the country."
Mr Clegg was joined at the event by Lib Dem Cambridge MP Julian Huppert [pictured - below].
Mr Huppert said: "I think this shows how much can be done at somewhere like Cambridge Regional College.
This also shows what there is available in Cambridge - we are a very diverse economy and we can dots of things and we do tend to do them very well, whether it's the higher education that people always hear about or the fantastic further education that there is here."