BIRKENHEAD and Liverpool had at least one great piece of news last week. The government announced two new University Technical Colleges, one for either side of our river.
This brings the number of UTCs in the inner area of our city region to three. I understand that Liverpool is reacting so positively to this new cluster that the city is beginning to rethink what this advance means to its structure of secondary education.
The Birkenhead announcement is the best piece of news the town has had since Cammell Laird reopened and one man, John Syvret, has been the driving force behind both.
There are a number of personal reasons why the UTC announcement is important. I sit on the Trust whose main aim is to see 1000 of these institutions established across the country. I naturally wanted at least one in Birkenhead.
But last week's announcement has national significance.
The 1944 Education Act laid down that Britain should have a strong, growing number of technical schools.
The aim was to ensure that our country during the post-war years had a growing number of highly skilled workers. This part of the 1944 vision perished.
The consequences of our failure to continuously market our skills base are all too apparent in our current economic plight. Germany did not make the same mistake. For nearly 150 years its technical education has been second to none.
But there were social as well as economic consequences of the failure by successive governments to give the priority to technical education that was warranted by changes in world markets. This is quite apart from not offering young people with potential the nurturing to fulfil their best selves.
Soon after I was elected in Birkenhead I noticed the beginning of what turned into a flood of young single mothers claiming benefit. I did not think for one moment that this hugely significant change was caused by some moral virus affecting the very fabric of society.
The main driver was economic, coming as it did from the demise of a large numbers of jobs paying good family wages that were once characteristic of the heavy industries and the docks in Merseyside. This decline of our manufacturing base in Merseyside had a huge impact on the social ecology of our region, as it did elsewhere.
With so many young men unemployed, and a rise of the minimum wage economy, together with a welfare system that paid single mothers proportionately more than they would gain if they were living with their partner, opting for single parenthood became a rational decision so common it took on a cultural life of its own.
This has been one, but an important one, of the many changes that have had such a huge impact on the nurturing of children in our region and elsewhere. And that is where the UTC comes in.
Being a pupil at a UTC will offer an entry into higher paid, family wage jobs, and more to those who become graduates. The UTC is also the foundation of a more prosperous economic future for GB Ltd.