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Nick Clegg meets apprentice mechanics from across Sussex
Buy this photo » Nick Clegg tests his own engineering skills while meeting apprentices in Newhaven
“I didn't go into politics to be unpopular.”
Those were the words of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who visited Sussex yesterday (June 6).
Liberal Democrat leader Mr Clegg was in the county to meet apprentices to see how training is helping young people to find work.
The Argus also asked him about the Government’s austerity measures.
Mr Clegg talked to Halfords apprentices Elliot Burton, 17, from Shoreham, and Sophie Gray, 23, from Chichester, at the Autocentre in The Drove, Newhaven.
Transport Minster and Lewes MP Norman Baker also attended.
Apprenticeships are crucial to getting young people onto the jobs ladderNick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister
The MOT, car servicing, tyre and repair company employs 180 apprentices across the country.
Apprentices spend eight weeks a year at a training centre in Shropshire, as well as going through on-the-job training and assessment.
Mr Clegg, who has been vocal in his support of apprenticeships, said that the £2.50 an hour wage which the young people are paid was not the motivating factor.
He said: “They are delighted to get the qualifications, the skills and the work experience.
“Apprenticeships are crucial to getting young people onto the jobs ladder.
“That’s why the Government has launched the Youth Contract. This will provide nearly half a million new opportunities for young people, including apprenticeships and work experience placements.
“We are actually paying employers to take on young people.”
Mr Clegg told The Argus that calls for the Government to ditch its austerity programme are misplaced.
He said: “It is not an ‘either or’ choice. We took action last August when we saw that the economy was slowing and stretched our recovery programme over two more years.
“It’s not about easy choices. I didn’t go into politics to be unpopular. But if you take the ferry from Newhaven and visit countries like Spain you will see the consequences of not getting to grips with the economy.”
The Deputy Prime Minister also backed the development of the Rampion off-shore wind farm.
He said: “We have got to wean ourselves off our dependence on oil and wind power is crucial.”