Call to boost Fylde coast skills and tackle unemployment

MP Gordon Marsden at his office in South Shore.

MP Gordon Marsden at his office in South Shore.

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A Blackpool MP has blasted the Government over ‘stagnation’ in the employment market locally and for not putting enough resources into boosting workers’ skills.

Labour’s Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden, reacting to the latest unemployment figures from the Office for National Statistics, said while the national picture appeared better, the local picture was one of poorly paid, low hours jobs, leaving people with little opportunity for training to improve their income.

He said this was a major blow to the local economy as people did not have enough spare cash to put back by spending locally.

He added that the news yesterday that relatively well-paid civil service jobs at Norcross were threatened would make things worse.

He said the claimant count figures, which showed a slight increase on January last year, masked the true picture.

He said: “Figures from the Houses of Parliament show the number of people claiming this year is nine per cent higher than last year. Blackpool’s unemployment rate for 16 to 64-year-olds is 6.3 per cent. That is two and a half times the UK average of 2.4 per cent.

“For young people there has been no improvement. Six per cent of the active youth population are unemployed compared to 3.3 per cent for the North West and 2.7 per cent for the country as a whole. That is again nearly two and a half times the national rate.

“The government is failing to tackle the underlying weaknesses. It is still not investing enough in decent apprenticeships and adult training.

“We have too many people on zero hours and low hours contracts.

“Those people can’t progress to better jobs and as a result can’t contribute more to the local economy. They are not been given the opportunity to up-skill.

“The Government is putting all its eggs into the apprenticeships basket and neglecting adult training. It has cut adult skills funding by 20 to 30 per cent.

“The Government is planning to cut 400 civil service jobs in Blackpool at Tomlinson House by 2022. These are good middle range jobs for Blackpool and the Fylde, which contribute to our economy.”

But Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys said: “Nationally we see a very good picture with unemployment falling and employment rising, despite the warning that Brexit would see immediate job losses.

“Locally the picture is more stable. Government investment like the £25m for the new conference centre will create jobs in time as will the two enterprise zones as they come on-stream.

“However, the challenge is providing local people with the skills and training required to make use of the opportunities that are coming forward.

“On May 19 this year I will be hosting my first jobs and skills fair in order to inspire and inform our young people and job seekers in just what is available to do in the world of work.”

See also: Job events syaged but unemployment rising