THE Welsh Secretary says that driving a lorry for the family firm helped put him on the road to success as he called for more on-the-job training for school leavers.

David TC Davies MP told business leaders in Wrexham that past governments got it “completely wrong” when they turned their backs on industrial and business apprenticeships to focus on encouraging the majority of young people to enrol on university degree courses.

Speaking at a meeting of the Wrexham Business Professionals group, he said apprenticeships offered an unparalleled opportunity for them to learn from those who are already running businesses.

According to Mr Davies, he opted to work for his family in their shipping company Burrow Heath Ltd in Newport instead of going to university.

He learned on the job in various departments, including at one point driving a lorry for two years, before he eventually entered politics.

Mr Davies also served in the Territorial Army and as a Special Constable before he became an MP, first being elected to the Monmouth seat in 2005.

The Welsh Secretary agreed that apprenticeships of all kinds should be highly valued and it was wrong to write off those who signed up for vocational schemes as simply being unacademic.


He said: “There is no one-size-fits-all path in education. I’m not against anyone going to university if it suits their career path but it is not the right thing for every school leaver.

“I myself didn’t go to university but it did not hold me back. I like many others still found success in other ways.”

“I believe past governments got it completely wrong when they launched a mass campaign encouraging all school leavers to aim first and foremost for university. And those who still insist on this approach today are blind to the needs of our employers and society in general.

“No one should be considered a failure just because they may not have a degree or even the inclination to attend university.

“Further education and learning has many different routes which should all be nurtured. We should not compare vocational skills unfavourably against academia.

“Apprenticeships are as valuable a route to skills learning as any other form of study and they can be the starting point to an exciting career.

“Some of our greatest business leaders did not attend university but learned the ropes on the job, became innovators and inventors, and contributed enormously to our country’s economic growth.”

The Wrexham Business Professionals group is made up of successful companies and skilled professionals working together to promote regional prosperity and shine a light on the enterprise and expertise that exists in the region. 

The meeting was chaired by Ian Edwards, a leading member of Wrexham Business Professionals, who said: “We’re very grateful to the Secretary of State for Wales and Robin Jones for their illuminating presentations and their valuable insights.

“Their contributions provided much food for thought and the main takeaway is that the world of education needs to be more aligned with the needs of business and industry.”