This week saw the Lib Dems launch a major new campaign: A Million Jobs for a Stronger Economy. As a party we have a habit of launching major campaigns and then letting them peter out. Remember the ‘John Lewis economy’ for instance? Or that we were the ‘one nation party’ before Ed Miliband? If not, you won’t be alone. So it’s encouraging that the party’s Million Jobs campaign is scheduled to run for a year — the minimum necessary for it to get any traction — and is tied into the party’s ‘Stronger Economy’ slogan. The party’s been bigging-up the Twitter hashtag #amillionjobs and it’s the subject of this week’s letter from Nick…
Britain is creating jobs. I know it doesn’t always feel like it – and a lot of families are still feeling the pinch. But since the Liberal Democrats came into government in 2010, we’ve helped British businesses create more than a million jobs. Now we want to help them create a million more.
That’s the ambition behind the campaign our party launched this week: A Million Jobs for a Stronger Economy. I want everyone in Britain to know that jobs are right at the heart of the Liberal Democrats’ agenda over the next two years in government. You can find out more and get involved in spreading the word here.
We want more jobs for young people; more jobs outside of London; more jobs in high skilled manufacturing and the high growth industries of the future; more green jobs and more rural jobs too.
We’ve already done a lot – investing billions in science, advance manufacturing and renewable energy, as well as creating work by investing in roads, railways and homes. Our Regional Growth Fund is providing money to firms around the country. And we’re offering £2,000 cash back to employers on the tax they pay to employ staff, making it easier to take people on.
But we need to do more – starting with a major apprenticeships drive. More and more young people are learning the skills they need for well-paid careers, not just in a classroom or lecture theatre, but in the office or on the shop floor – and they’re getting paid for it.
It’s an old idea to help build a new economy. Not only do apprenticeships create new opportunities for young men and women, but companies get the loyal and capable staff they need to compete and expand. It works for all kinds of industries – from construction to catering; from advanced engineering to accounting.
Vince Cable and I made this a priority when we came into office and the Coalition is investing record sums in helping firms hire and train apprentices. We’re also cutting red tape so it’s easier for smaller firms to take people on.
But there are still firms and young people missing out. We have nearly five million businesses in the UK, but little over 100,000 currently offer apprenticeships. We need to be more ambitious – I want us to work to double the number of companies offering apprenticeships.
If you’re an employer, take up the help that’s available: these young men and women will create the committed, enthusiastic and skilled workforce your company needs. There are grants and training available, and a clear benefit to your business.
And if you are a young person considering what path to take when you leave school, or you’re uncertain about your future, look into apprenticeships. They can be the first step to a well-paid and rewarding career.
Together, we can lead a major apprenticeships drive, helping build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
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* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from May 2007 to Jan 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.