The Stroud MP's weekly column.

Much is being achieved locally and nationally to help people find jobs, gain skills and enrol in apprenticeships and I had the pleasure to see this in action when I took part in Lift Off at Gloucester’s Rugby Club last week.

Firstly, many thanks to my colleague Richard Graham MP for organising what was a very successful event, together with thanks to the rugby club and the Chief Executive, Lance Bradley for hosting. It was important to hear from businesses and young people about what they need to assist in Gloucestershire’s post-Covid recovery.

I chaired a panel discussion with the leads of SGS College, the University of Gloucestershire, Gloucestershire College and Cirencester College to discuss skills and upskilling opportunities for both younger and older people.

There’s definitely evidence people have used the lockdown pause and the issues caused by Covid to think about returning to education to reskill. Popular courses are now the vocational ones as they give the best chance of jobs with construction, nursing and social care high on the list.

With over 16,000 people furloughed in Stroud and many people worried about their jobs and futures, it is important we send out the message that local colleges and the university offer an incredible range of courses. There is support for next steps if people lose their jobs.

At Lift Off I also spoke to the Stroud Job Centre team and they had some very good news. We have local businesses offering to take on kickstart apprenticeships for this £2 billion government scheme to get 16 to 24-year-olds into work. I have also been contacted by several constituents concerned they cannot get appointments with GPs. NHS England is now writing to all GP practices telling them they need to offer face-to-face appointments when they are needed.