NATIONAL service is a ‘fantastic opportunity’ for young people to learn skills, a local parliamentary candidate has said.

Miriam Cates, Conservative candidate for Penistone and Stocksbridge, has praised the proposals for national service for young people.

She said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn skills and to build a strong sense of service and community.

“It’s really important to make clear that no young person will be forced to do military service.

“The armed forces element will be for 30,000 people a year – that’s just one in 20 of all those who turn 18 each year.

“It will be a competitive process and in other countries with similar schemes – like Norway – it has proved very popular.”

Mrs Cates added that the proposals will help avoid wars – and that local people will benefit from the scheme in a number of ways.

“We all know that young people don’t have enough opportunities to gain self-confidence, resilience and physical competence,” she added.

“Our education is far too focused on academic learning, and thousands and thousands of young people leave university every year in significant debt and without the skills they need for work.

“And lots of young people are interested in military service but don’t want to commit five or seven years of their lives – this is a great opportunity to try out the armed forces with no long term commitment.

“The best way to avoid a war is to have a proper deterrent – strong and well trained armed forces are the best way to achieve this.

“Increasing the numbers of people in Britain who have military training will make our country stronger and safer.”