The local MP made his comments following a visit to Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP) properties in Syme Road, Dumfries, to meet local apprentices at work from DGHP's repairs contractor Lovell.
The visit took place as part of National Apprenticeship Week. On his visit to Syme Road, the MP met 17-year-old Owen MacGregor, a trainee plasterer with Lovell in his first year of his apprenticeship with the contractor. Owen, who is from Annan, started with Lovell in September 2013 after a one-year plastering course at Dumfries and Galloway College.
Director of Housing Services for DGHP, Jayne Moore says: "There are hundreds of young people across Dumfries and Galloway with great potential. Apprenticeships are not only good for young people, but they benefit business and have an impact on the wider community.
"It's great that DGHP's repairs and maintenance contract with Lovell can help young people like Owen benefit from skills and experience he will learn on the job from his apprenticeship."
Owen now spends two days a week in class at college and his other three days working with Lovell, gaining invaluable practical experience and learning from his experienced colleagues. Owen is one of five apprentices working with Lovell and is the only young person working in plastering.
Lovell project manager Allister Duff says: "We've got a few young tradesmen coming through at the moment. One of our apprentice joiners is in his final year and the other three are in various stages of their joinery apprenticeships. For young people like Owen, an apprenticeship is the best of both worlds, combining training in college and on the job experience."
Speaking after the visit, Russell Brown MP said: "Unemployment is the major issue facing local young people and apprenticeships are one of the best ways to tackle the scourge of joblessness. It gives our local young people a skill set that they have for life. Having spent time with the apprentices like Owen, I know what a great opportunity this is for an apprentice.
"There is the opportunity to learn on the job, build up knowledge and skills, gain qualiﬁcations and earn money all at the same time. They also gain excellent prospects for the future because they have the knowledge and experience that employers really value. But apprenticeships are also good for the businesses themselves, helping them fill skills gaps. I hope others follow the lead of companies such as Lovell and offer apprenticeships. We can get our young people working again."