Scottish Apprentice week took place two weeks ago with the purpose of drawing attention to the success of apprenticeships in Scotland and the need to achieve more for our young people. I had the pleasure of visiting a company called Glacier Energy Services at Ross Offshore based in my constituency in Dalgety Bay where I met with management and two first year apprentices Miss Ellis Duncan from Dunfermline and Mr Jordan Devlin from Rosyth.
It was great to hear from Ellis and Jordon about their experience and how much they were enjoying their training and getting the skills they need to secure a good career in engineering. Whilst our education system continues to improve with many pupils achieving great results and going on to have varied, interesting and successful careers, I do believe that much more needs to be done if we want to shift Scottish education to the top of the UK and Europe in terms of achievement and success. We have three High Schools namely St Columba’s, Woodmill and Inverkeithing that must be replaced and I am asking the council to bring these into the capital plan, but it is not just about buildings it is about what goes on in them and what resources they have. On a recent visit to Cowdenbeath Primary School I was over the moon and completely baffled! as the Primary 7 pupils demonstrated to me the skills they have been learning in ICT. This work is part of a project being rolled out where Fife Council has moved resources from other parts of the council to make available new IT equipment and specialised support for teachers and pupils to learn new technologies as a tool for learning.
If we are serious about tackling inequality in our society then at the heart of any strategy must be education, training and skills. Throughout the history of the Labour movement, whether it was the Red Clydesiders, the Jarrow Marchers or the now famous UCS Sit in, all these workers did not march for benefits they marched for jobs and today where we live in a global economy that does not recognise borders, more than ever we need the best education, the best skills to give all our people the best chance in life. It is for this reason that as an MSP one of my priorities is to make the case for more resources for education but also for reform that will devolve more resources but also more power to the local level to drive ambition in both academic and vocational education.
The Royal Bank of Scotland announced recently it is to close its branches at Aberdour and Kelty. I have now met with representatives of RBS and they stated that in the case of Aberdour there has been a 38% decline in transactions over 3 years with 16 customers on a weekly basis. They confirmed they will retain the ATM (Cash Machine) in Aberdour and their intention to make available their new mobile branch.
In the case of Kelty, they stated there has been a 16% decline in transactions with 78 customers using the branch on a weekly basis. RBS also say that the Post Office is available for banking purposes and that the mobile branch will do a regular slot in the village. RBS say they will be engaging with customers in the coming weeks to discuss the options, the retention of the ATMs and the use of the mobile bank.
I know there is anger at these announcements and I will continue to make the case and work with the community to get the best deal we can.