A GOVERNMENT minister has praised Keighley's "extraordinary" young people.

Minister for Skills, Robert Halfon, was speaking during a visit to the town.

He took part in a round-table discussion at Keighley College.

The session was hosted by college principal Kevin O’Hare and Keighley MP Robbie Moore and amongst those present were T-level and vocational students, apprentices, employer Tim Rogers and representatives of companies including engineering firm Teconnex and tube manufacturer Stell.

Mr Halfon paid tribute.

"I was able to meet some extraordinary young people at Keighley College," he said.

"They all have a real passion for what they do and it was great to hear about how they're being supported by the college and indeed by local employers like Tim Rogers, Teconnex and Stell as they journey through education and move into the world of work.

"Skills are the catalyst for boosting local growth in towns like Keighley, and that’s exactly why this Government is working to accelerate apprenticeships, T-levels and vocational skills across all our towns and cities.

"There is no other education institution in the country that does what colleges do, particularly in supporting those from disadvantaged backgrounds to get on that ladder of opportunity."

Mr Moore says: "Keighley College plays a huge role in our community, equipping our young people with the skills they need to go on and thrive.

"It was great to see the Skills Minister emphasising the importance of vocational education, which is something I’ve been focused on since becoming Keighley’s MP. I look forward to taking the ideas raised at this round-table to Westminster."

Mr O'Hare said the visit was a "real opportunity" to discuss wider issues facing the further education sector, as well as address some curriculum reforms and plans for vocational courses, apprenticeships and T-levels.

He added: "We’re committed to driving the skills agenda, which is something that the minister champions.

"Through a skills improvement plan, which is feeding into some of the work we're doing in construction, engineering, health and social care, we are providing sought-after skills for the economy and employers across Keighley and surrounding areas."

During his visit, Mr Halfon also met Alisha Bell and Julia Verity from Teconnex to discuss potential strategies for promoting the engineering sector to women.

Figures show that just 16.5 per cent of people working in engineering are women.

Mr Halfon said the Government was working to engage more girls with STEM subjects.