Congratulations to all the young people across Morley and Outwood who’ve had A Level or GCSE exam results over the last few weeks. As we know in our house, August can be a stressful time for parents, teachers and of course young people themselves who face big decisions about their future.
Earlier this year one young A Level student from Rodillian asked me about what she should do to get into the film industry – after the A level results last week she will now hopefully be putting her plan into action. And in my office, now working with me as part of her year out, former Woodkirk student and aspiring politician, Jess Riley got her brilliant A Level results and is now planning where they will take her. I get out to all our local secondary schools whenever I can and it’s always great to hear about young people’s plans for the future. Students at Bruntcliffe, Morley Academy, Rodillian and Woodkirk – as well as Outwood Grange over in Wakefield - are deciding on their A Levels subjects or college course or looking at some of the great local options for apprenticeships. And older students, who’ve finished their college course or A Levels, are deciding about university or heading out into the world of work or into an apprenticeship. For those making these big decisions thankfully help and advice is close at hand thanks to our great local sixth forms and colleges. But much more still needs to be done to ensure there are opportunities for young people to get them into jobs and training so they can get on and do well. After all, it is our young people upon whom we all rely the future prosperity of the country. Young people who have worked so hard for their exams deserve the chances to get on and do well. But like many others, I am worried about whether the next generation will have the chances to do better than the last. New analysis from the House of Commons Library shows that the under 30s have had a particularly hard time over the last few years. Almost everyone has been feeling the pinch in their pay packet, but average weekly earnings have fallen much more markedly for the under 30s than for older age groups – down around 10% for younger workers compared to about 5 per cent for those in their 40s. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, those born in the mid-1980s have lower incomes than those born just five or 10 years earlier at the same age. And with the number of young people out of work for over a year still way too high - and high rents preventing young people from leaving the family home or getting on the housing ladder - we need to make sure there are enough of the right opportunities for our young people to get the education, training, jobs and other opportunities to get on and do well. I’ll be keeping up the pressure to get young people a better deal. We need strong action now to prevent a whole generation of young people falling behind.
My office has been particularly busy over the summer dealing with problems local people have had getting new or renewed passports. In the worst cases, holidays have been missed and family get-togethers postponed because of this Home Office mess-up. It’s been a really difficult time for all of those affected. So when I called into the Crown Post Office in Morley I was keen to hear how the problems had affected staff there. As local people will know, Morley Post Office has been recently refurbished and as well as its smart new look, it is also now equipped with state of the art equipment to provide retina and finger print scans for our modern day passports. Gill serving at the counter told me how much they stress the importance of the Post Office’s ‘check and send’ service which makes sure there applications are correct before being sent off. But with so much pressure on passport offices, not even the Check and Send service was enough to ensure all local people got their passports back on time. Thank you to the local team for showing me round the back office. I’ll be popping in on the other side of the counter very soon.