The fall in unemployment both in Aylesbury and nationally is good news.
Of course, there is a lot still to do –every person wanting to work but unable to find a job represents a human tragedy. But when I compare the local jobless rate, less than two per cent, with what I see in other countries, I think we’ve reason to be optimistic.
Optimism mustn’t become complacency. As we continue to recover from recession, British business is having to adapt to further far-reaching change.
Global competition is a reality. Online sales are transforming retailing: look at how ‘click and collect’ is taking off in Aylesbury’s supermarkets and how niche food producers are selling direct to consumers. Digital technology is challenging many white collar jobs just as automated production changed factory work a generation ago.
We can’t wish change away but need to adapt and seize opportunities. I’m impressed by the companies in Bucks, from big players like MacAfee or ESRI to local SMEs that are at the cutting edge of new technology or have built business success on trading worldwide.
After all, countries like Mexico or Malaysia, Poland or Romania getting richer means millions of potential new customers for the goods and services we produce.
The new town centre plan is an effort by our local councils to make Aylesbury more attractive as a retail centre – drawing in more customers and so more jobs.
The work going on at local schools, the Aylesbury UTC and Aylesbury College to strengthen technical and vocational education is all about giving young people the best chance to find fulfilling work in a changing economy.
The focus by Bucks Business First and the Local Enterprise Partnerships on improving broadband and road connections is all part of the same drive.
There’s no silver bullet that will secure growth and employment, either in Aylesbury or anywhere else. Rather, we need a relentless commitment by many different people and organisations to creating the conditions that allow business to flourish and create jobs.
It’s because I see that commitment in Aylesbury that I am optimistic for the future.