Week Ahead in Trade: Start of National Apprenticeship Week, Stormont re-assembles and Parliament rises

Mon 5 Feb 2024
Posted by: Phil Adnett
Trade News

Over the next few days, we’ll be celebrating the importance of apprenticeships for individuals, businesses and the UK economy as National Apprenticeship Week kicks off today (5 February).

Stormont is also reconvening for the first time in two years, the Westminster parliament is about to rise and there’s three significant international elections.

National Apprenticeship Week: Today marks the beginning of National Apprenticeship Week, described by the government as: “a week-long celebration that brings together businesses and apprentices across the country to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.”

All across the UK, fairs are taking place to encourage people to join the 750,000+ learners already enrolled on apprenticeship programmes.

The apprenticeship delivery arm of the Institute of Export and International Trade (IOE&IT), IOEx Ltd, has recently begun enrolling apprentices on its Level 3 International Freight Forwarding Specialist Apprenticeship.

Stormont returns: The newly formed executive of Northern Ireland is set to have its first meeting today (5 February). Michelle O’Neill became the first minister in Stormont on Sunday (3 February), just days after the Democratic Unionist Party agreed to a deal with Westminster and entered back into the power-sharing agreement that underpins the devolved administration.

The deal will see reduced checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, resulting in less paperwork for firms.

Following a visit from UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, O’Neill has a long to-do-list following a year-long absence of a functioning Northern Irish regional government, including resolving a long-running series of strikes.

Parliament: Tuesday (6 February) sees trade very much on the agenda in the House of Commons.

  • The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee hears oral evidence on the UK’s trade policy as it relates to food and drink, including hearing from trade promotion officials and experts from the National Farmers Union (NFU)
  • On the same day, the International Agreements Committee takes evidence on the impact of the UK-Swiss Financial Services Agreement signed last year

On Thursday (8 February), the Commons rises for its constituency recess.

Year of elections – Three national elections take place this week, as the world’s ‘Year of Democracy’ continues.

On Wednesday, (7 February) Azerbaijan holds its presidential elections, where the ruling party is widely expect to win.

On Thursday, (8 February), Pakistan heads to the polls for a set of long-awaited parliamentary elections. Former PM and international cricketeer Imran Khan has been disqualified after receiving a series of lengthy prison sentences, while another former leader, Nawaz Sharif, attempts return to power for the fourth time. Despite not being eligible to run for office, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf currently has a commanding lead in the polls.

Finally, in Finland, former PM Alexander Stubb faces off against former foreign minister Pekka Haavisto on Sunday (11 February) in the presidential run-off. Stubb, of the governing centre-right National Coalition Party, won the first round with 27%, narrowly edging out his centre-left rival, a member of the Finnish green party.

Other dates for the diary

Monday: Beginning of National Apprenticeship week

Tuesday: In the US, both the Democratic and Republican parties hold their Nevada presidential primaries

Wednesday: Start of Valentine’s Week (to February 14)

Thursday: International Scotch Day

Friday: National Pizza Day

Saturday: Beginning of the new lunar year

Sunday: Superbowl 58 between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers