Every man or woman wanting to work but unable to find a job represents a human tragedy.
In my constituency surgeries over the years I’ve seen first-hand how utterly demoralising that experience is for people. Unemployment can mean not just a loss of income but of independence and self-respect too. So it’s good news that joblessness in the Aylesbury constituency is now down to fewer than 700 people, or just over 1 % of the working age population. Nor is it true that this trend is simply down to low-skilled and part-time work. Full-time jobs accounted for 95% of the national rise in employment over the last year and two-thirds of the rise in employment since 2010 has been in higher-skilled occupations. But when I look at what’s now happening in the world – at the rise of Asian and Latin American economies and the impact of digital technology on established ways of doing business – I see we can’t afford to relax.
Of course meeting this challenge is partly about national policies: cutting the tax per employee on firms, reducing red tape, welfare reform, trade agreements and so on. But it also involves action locally. To attract and keep high-skill, high-value employment in Aylesbury we need to do all we can to improve the educational and skills levels of both our present and future workforce. In recent months, I’ve talked to heads and principals at Mandeville, Haydon Abbey,
Thomas Hickman, Turnfurlong, Aylesbury College and Bucks UTC and I’ve been heartened by their relentless commitment to high standards and high expectations.
Our county and district councils have joined forces with local business, colleges and training providers to develop the “Going for Gold” scheme to showcase best practice and quality in apprenticeships to encourage more local employers to raise their game. The new University Campus Aylesbury Vale now being built next to the Waterside Theatre is a further boost to the town.