PM quizzed on 'skills gap' during factory visit

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at Churchill China
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak took questions during a visit to Stoke-on-Trent [PA Media]

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak reiterated his commitment to prioritising maths in education as he was quizzed about a possible skills gap in Stoke-on-Trent.

Mr Sunak took his general election campaign to Tunstall on Tuesday where he was questioned by workers at ceramics firm Churchill China.

During the session, the company's chief executive Dave O'Connor asked what he was going to do to fill the skills gaps in engineering and materials science.

Mr Sunak said the UK would not be able to train people in the "jobs of the future" unless more people were studying maths.

"We’re one of the few countries in the world that says to people that you don’t have to study maths to 18 and I want to change that," he added.

Mr Sunak said his government had created a new bursary for those aiming to teach subjects like maths.

“The other thing we’re passionate about is apprenticeships which is important to us," he added.

Rishi Sunak at Churchill China
Mr Sunak was given a tour of Churchill China's factory [Reuters]

Mr O’Connor said the firm recruited hard-working people in the area but often a number of companies were “competing for the same few people”.

Speaking of the event, he said building connections with politicians "gets the subject into the political arena".

On the visit, the prime minister told the BBC there was “more work to do” on levelling up Stoke-on-Trent.

It came after the city council secured £56m in 2021 which had still not been spent in full.

“People know that progress has been made and more broadly the economy has turned a corner," Mr Sunak said.

“What I'm offering to the people of Stoke-on-Trent, the West Midlands, is someone who has a clear plan which is working and is prepared to take bold action as you can see with national service.”

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