This week has seen a focus on my Plan for Jobs; making sure that as we build back better from the pandemic, we have job opportunities available across the board. Because having a job, and the ability to gain skills to progress, is something that will transform the life chances of all residents.
Just over a month ago I attended the Burnley and Pendle Jobs Fair, and as I said at the opening of that to employers and JobCentre Staff, the opportunities being provided are transformative. A job provides stability, it builds confidence, it brings with it a new social circle, and it can give structure and purpose. That’s what drives me to work with employers, and Government, to find the schemes that incentivise work and job creation.
Schemes like Kickstart, and policies like the reduction in the UC taper rate. The latter of these mean that, now, being in work will always mean you’re better off than out of it. The disincentive to work, by a sharp reduction in social security, has gone - meaning more people will have the opportunity to build experience and employment.
This week we’ve also had some fantastic news on Kickstart, with the latest numbers showing more than 220 young people within Burnley and Padiham have benefited from the programme. That is more than in Hyndburn, Rossendale, Pendle and many other areas. It puts us at the forefront of our local economic recovery, supporting young people get the work experience they need with the government covering the wage bill for employers.
I’ve spoken to many organisations that have used the scheme locally, including brilliant ones like the Canal & Rivers Trust. They’ve now offered some of their Kickstarters full apprenticeships - demonstrating the enormous value this scheme has for both employer and employee.
But we need to create opportunity abroad too - not for job creation in other countries, but for export growth which will create more jobs here at home. Helping more companies within the borough export has always been a priority for me. They are businesses that employ our friends, family and neighbours, and when they thrive, so does our whole borough. Ensuring they have the know how to do so is what the new new 12 point Export Strategy announced by the International Trade Secretary earlier this week is all about. And it comes after speaking with local businesses about how best we can assist by addresses many of the initial challenges faced for those getting started.
Through the UK Export Academy, local SMEs will now be able to get information on how to go about exporting, attend networking events to meet other businesses that can offer advice, and get involved in the newly launched UK Tradeshow Programme, allowing Burnley based companies, especially SMEs, to receive a leg-up to exhibit their first-class products at the world’s biggest tradeshows. Taking full advantage of the new free trade deals that have been secured across the world.
Levelling-Up to me is about jobs, it’s about infrastructure and it’s about opportunity. And through this week’s announcements on exports and jobs, and the Chancellor’s backing of our borough through the success of the Levelling-Up Fund bid, we are well away on that journey.