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POLITICALLY SPEAKING...with Ed Balls

Ed Balls.

Ed Balls.

Job security and the squeeze on living standards are big concerns in Morley.

Job security and the squeeze on living standards are big concerns in Morley. One local man told me last week that having chances to get on in life was a real worry for him with his two teenage children. And he said he was worried about his own job too. “People say things are getting better, but they still look pretty bad from where I’m standing.” And he’s right.

Of course it’s really welcome news that the economy is finally starting to grow again after such a long time. But many local people who used to work full-time are now in part-time jobs, new contracts are often for insecure hours or on lower pay than people had before and many of our young people are still struggling to get on at all.

Many of those who are out of work just need the right opportunity to come along. And while youth unemployment is stubbornly high, it’s good news that our official unemployment levels are lower than they’ve been. But for some, applying for jobs week in week out, there are other things holding them back. Lots of work places have changed and now insist on IT skills or GCSEs where before it was enough to be a hard worker.

For those whose skills haven’t kept pace with the labour market, or who didn’t get good enough qualifications at school, we need to do more.

That’s why my colleague, Leeds MP, Rachel Reeves is calling for a Basic Skills Test for all new claimants for Job Seekers Allowance. It will mean that those without the skills they need for a job can be given training straight away which they’ll have to take or lose their benefits.

As the Morley man I spoke to this week said, “people get on in life when they work”. We have to make sure people get the training. And we must act to get all young people back to work.

 

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