A Job For Everyone Who Wants One?
Bryony shares her thoughts on David Cameron’s promise of job creation & full employment in the next five years.
The Queen delivered her first Conservative speech for almost 20 years when recently opening the new parliamentary term.
Outlining government’s future plans, she said they promised to bring together the different parts of the UK, help disadvantaged people and, perhaps most importantly for recruiters, support workers and aspirational businesses.
David Cameron followed with the promise that we will reach full employment by 2020 through the creation of two million more jobs and three million new apprenticeships.
This means by the end of his reign there will be a job in the UK for everyone who wants one; but can he really deliver on this promise?
That depends on your definition of full employment and whether he actually meant to say ‘net new jobs’, although I suspect he didn’t.
Nevertheless, unemployment currently sits at 1.86 million people and if he can help businesses employ two million more, he must be well on his way.
As you would imagine, job creation being at the heart of any economic plan makes perfect sense to me.
More people working means higher living standards, widespread financial security and greater national productivity. In turn that leads to less welfare outlaid and more taxes paid. To a non-economist recruitment specialist, that sounds like a pretty good recipe for success.
So how do they plan to do it? The Conservative Party Manifesto suggests their approach will be two-fold; trying to help businesses create jobs and making key sections of the workforce more employable.
As with most political promises, the devil will be in the detail and, so far it doesn’t seem clear how the new jobs will be created.
Assuming this is achieved, the big question will then be: are they the right kind of jobs? Today minimum wage and zero hours contracts are commonplace and I’d question if this can ever truly lead to full employment.
Real wages need to rise and people need decent jobs if this is to be a true success.
Plans to cut red tape will help small businesses, as will an employment law review allowing employers and employees to agree more flexible working practices, but this will be subject to a successful EU negotiation!
Up-skilling the workforce
Job availability is great, but as I know only too well, you have to fill them with the right people.
There’s no point in trying to create jobs for those already gainfully employed. The focus needs to be on specific segments of the workforce who need training and skills.
Investment in technology and innovation is important, but it must be accompanied by a programme to train young people and those working in declining industries.
A growth in apprenticeships should be applauded, as education and vocational training has a vital role to play in increasing overall employment. Business must work with education, supported by the government.
Increases in childcare support will help mothers get back to work more easily, but this also needs to be accompanied by a rise in wages and more flexibility with working hours.
There’s a lot to do, but building an economy with job creation and business at its heart has genuine merit, especially for a region like the North East.
Of course a clear vision of what full employment looks like would help to build support, but, given the positive gains in employment we’ve seen during the economic recovery, I think it could be time to put aside personal politics and try to all pull in the same direction.
You never know, with strong leadership, a clear focus and a commitment across all areas of government policy, these promises might even come true!