At my fifth Jobs and Apprenticeship Fair last week in Haverhill, I was delighted to welcome our biggest turnout of people on record.
Hundreds of people of all ages flocked into Haverhill Arts Centre to meet employers and talk about their futures.
There was a great buzz around the main hall all morning and Tesco, West Suffolk College and the Herbert Group ran two brilliant break-out sessions open to everybody to join in.
Other companies and organisations, such as Community Action Suffolk and Crem Recruitment were on hand to give out advice and guidance on finding a career.
It was a huge success. I was thrilled, for example, to hear that as a direct result of the Fair Samuel Ward Academy employed three more apprentices. It is a real pleasure to host the Jobs Fair every year and above all to see so many different people benefit from them.
It is those employers who have stalls at Jobs Fairs, the Job Centres who recruit the attendees, the local businesses and schools, the local parents and young people, who have all been fundamental to re-building West Suffolk after the financial crash of 2008.
It has been a difficult time for everyone, but we are already starting to feel the effects of the recovery locally.
All over West Suffolk unemployment is falling and people are finding jobs to help secure themselves a better future.
Unemployment has fallen by 53 per cent since the election in 2010. Youth unemployment is down by 61 per cent. Long term unemployment, that is those out of work for more than six months, is down by 56 per cent.
This is an incredible achievement, but it is still not enough. One person unemployed is one person too many. There should be no-one struggling to find work in West Suffolk and we must all continue to fight tirelessly to make that case.
It is our community here that keeps our towns and villages going. I want to pay tribute to all those local employers who have helped secure jobs for themselves and others. To all the local schools who are helping spread opportunity to young people from all backgrounds, to the parents who work hard to provide for their families and to the businesses that work day and night to balance their books. It has not been easy.
I know first-hand what it is like to fear the bankruptcy of your own business, to give up weekends and holidays to ensure the family’s bills are paid. I grew up in my family’s small business; a computer software firm employing around 30 people, all of whom we felt individually responsible for. Our company nearly went bust in the recession of the 1990s. Both my family’s future and the future of all those we employed was on the line. But through the hard-work and dedication of my mother, step-father and all their employees we managed to pull through.
So it’s not all about the positive jobs statistics showing unemployment has fallen in West Suffolk and across the country, but instead about the people behind those figures, the hard-workers fuelling the economic recovery and the dedicated drivers of opportunity. The mothers and fathers working for the future of their children, the teachers and pupils striving to achieve whatever the circumstance.
It is these people that have helped West Suffolk back onto the road of recovery and these people that I am proud to represent.