Cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith was in Eastbourne on Friday to look at successful apprenticeships running in the town.
The Minister for Work and Pensions toured Teva Pharmaceuticals in Brampton Road which is looking into launching an apprenticeship scheme and then Sussex Downs College where he toured the motor vehicle department and met students who were taking part in practical workshops.
Mr Duncan Smith asked the students what skills they needed for their chosen job – during an interview with the Herald he said, “What you’ll see and what you’re beginning to see is a big change.
“We want to make sure young people like this are fitted now for the employment world so they’ve got skills, and this is what this college is all about, giving kids skills so they’ve got something to trade and improve their income for the future.”
The welfare system is currently undergoing reform, which includes the introduction of a new benefit called Universal Credit, which brings together a range of working-age benefits into a single payment.
One of the ideas is to encourage people on benefits to start paid work or increase their hours by making sure work pays.
The Conservative cabinet minister said the welfare system had trapped far too many students because there had been “disincentives” to actually move into the workplace.
For those that are struggling to get work in Eastbourne, Mr Duncan Smith said students should make sure they have the “right skills” and “enough education” to be able to give them far more choice.
He said, “All sorts of opportunities open up once you get some basic skills.”
Mr Duncan Smith was also in Eastbourne to give his backing to Caroline Ansell, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Eastbourne and Willingdon.
He said, “We want the seat back for the Conservatives and Caroline is local, a teacher and got strong roots in the community.
“This is very much the key and bringing this experience of the community up to Westminster is what we really want.
“That’s the whole key to the whole idea about what we’re fighting for in the next General Election.”
For further information on apprenticeships visit www.sussexdowns.ac.uk/courses/apprenticeships