The data published by the Office for National Statistics this month showed a number of positive trends in the labour market. The number of people in work is at a record high and wages outpaced inflation for the eleventh month in a row. Indeed, since 2010 over 3.5 million more people have been helped into the workplace.
I am passionate about the positive effect that being in employment can have on people’s lives. We should never lose sight of the fact that behind every statistic there is a person. There is plenty of evidence that shows the improvement in people’s mental health and life chances, not to mention financial circumstances, from being in employment.
Access to work should be open to everyone who has the ability to do so. Disability should never be barrier to work or to the fulfilment of career ambitions. I am pleased that the work being done by government is bearing delivering, with 145,000 more people with a disability finding work in the last year. This takes the total increase over the past five years to 930,000. With the focus being given to this by colleagues in government to break down barriers to employment. I very much hope we see continued the trend of a broad and diverse workforce where everyone can achieve.
I am pleased that the Industrial Strategy is supporting businesses to create good jobs, while also ensuring that companies play by the rules. We have a broad range of employers locally, many of whom are creating high skilled jobs and apprenticeships. Education providers, such as West Suffolk College, work with businesses to ensure young people leave education with the skills they need, both for now and in the future.
Locally, we are consistently below the national average for unemployment. This is testament to local businesses and education providers, as well as all of the public and voluntary bodies that support people from across our community find work.