IT has been very encouraging over the past couple of years to see unemployment falling in Macclesfield – particularly youth unemployment.
Between August 2011 and August 2015, the number of unemployed 18 to 24 year olds has more than halved in the constituency, and is at a lower rate than that for both the North West and the country as a whole. This is a real achievement, and reflects the hard work of local businesses and a strengthening economy.
This positive progress also underlines the importance of working to further improve skills and thereby increase employability among young people. That is why I was so encouraged by the work being done at Macclesfield College, when I visited earlier this month, to meet the new principal, Rachel Kay.
I was delighted to hear about her dedication to high quality training and support of apprenticeships, which the college is keen to make an even stronger priority.
Equally heartening is the enthusiasm for apprenticeship schemes among local businesses. It was a pleasure to attend AstraZeneca’s apprenticeships event in Macclesfield, in late July, when 30 new apprentices were welcomed into the company.
This is the largest intake of apprentices to a company in the North West for several years and it is good to see our largest private sector employer take such positive steps, along with many other private and public sector organisations of all sizes.
The local ambition of these initiatives reflects the national picture, as well. The Government is working to provide three million new apprenticeships over the next five years, having successfully created over two million in 2010-2015.
This is essential to help deliver a generation of young people more fully equipped with the skills and qualifications needed for the world of work and to take our economy forward.