Excellent career start for young people

IF YOU’RE in politics you can never take job security for granted! But for all of us work and the prospects that come with it are central parts of our lives, whether setting out into the job market or from a more established vantage point.

With this in mind I was encouraged by the Office of National Statistics’ May figures for the number of unemployed claimants in my constituency which rank Horsham as 588th out of a total of 650. At 1,178 this group represents a rate of 2.2 per cent of the economically active population aged 16 to 64, and overall is 121 lower than in May 2010 and 16 lower than in April this year. It’s still too many but good news that it’s falling.

This week the Skills Minister, John Hayes, reminded me that apprenticeships aren’t just for young people, as we all tend to assume. In fact, as part of our wider programme to get Britain working we are also expanding the numbers of adult apprenticeships.

By 2014-15 there will be 75,000 more adults starting than under the previous Government’s Train to Gain scheme, which the National Audit Office concluded back in 2009 ‘had not provided good value for money’. That’s why we redeployed £150m from that scheme to fund adult apprenticeships.

And for young people, provisional Government data shows 326,700 apprenticeship starts in the first nine months of the 2010-11 academic year – 114,000 more than in the previous year and more than double the Government’s ambition. This is proof of the growing popularity of apprenticeships as an excellent career start for young people.

All in all the growth we have achieved proves that employers recognise apprenticeships to be a sound platform for long term economic prosperity. This is especially true of small businesses which are the backbone of the economy and which employ 78 per cent of apprentices.

On a completely different note, I am grateful to the scores of people who contacted my office in recent weeks as part of the campaign to end the use of wild animals in circuses. I fully respect the motion for a ban to come into effect as soon as all outstanding legal cases have been resolved.

In the meantime, I am pleased that ministers are not waiting for the outcome of court cases before taking action to protect wild animals in circuses and have announced a very tough, new licensing regime using existing powers under the Animal Welfare Act.

FRANCIS MAUDE

MP for Horsham