Steve McCabe met with citizenship students at Kings Heath Boys School to discuss the hot topics of the day and debate lowering the voting age to 16.
Steve was quizzed on a wide variety of issues ranging from the damning Francis Report about the failings of Mid-Staffordshire Hospital, foreign intervention in Mali, EU membership and deficit reduction.
The students were particularly interested in what Steve had to say about what can be done to create jobs and growth in Birmingham. Steve explained how he would like to see more apprenticeships being offered and wants it to be easier for small businesses to offer them. Steve also stressed the importance of looking to where Birmingham has potential to grow in the future. One big area is medical technology, which can be enhanced with links to the Queen Elizabeth Super-Hospital, Universities across Birmingham and the development of a Life Sciences Park on the former Battery Park site in Selly Oak. Steve also hopes that Birmingham will become a centre of excellence and expertise for digital media as it is already the home of the BBC’s digital news and Birmingham City University is just one of the universities in Birmingham that is leading the way in this area.
The session concluded in a ballot, where students were asked if they thought the voting age should be lowered to 16. Steve said: “It was great to meet a group of young people with perceptive questions and a real passion for discussing the important issues of the day. We had a very varied discussion, ranging from banking reform to foreign interventions.
“I was very impressed with the students, who really wanted to know what I and other politicians are doing about tackling youth unemployment in Birmingham. It is obviously an issue that will affect them in the future and it was great to see them brining me to task about ways to tackle this huge problem.
“The session ended with a ballot on votes at 16. And I can tell you that there was a 100% turnout, no spoilt ballot papers and the students voted overwhelmingly in favour of giving the vote to 16 and 17 year olds. After meeting these young people I am less and less convinced by the arguments of some of my Westminster colleagues who believe that under-18’s are too immature to vote. This certainly wasn’t the case at Kings Heath Boys School!”