Imagine a girl called Sofia – 19 years-old. She could be your daughter, or cousin. You might know a young person like her – your granddaughter, or your next door neighbour.
Born in Tower Hamlets, she was educated in a state-of-the-art school and enjoyed it. She was surrounded by committed teachers ready to help launch her onto the next stage of her life. She had ambitions, like so many of our energetic and aspirational young people in the East End.
But when she left the school gates, the support seemed to dry up. Urged by her family to get a job, she sent applications after applications – but without success. Job centres didn’t talk to her like a 19 year-old. Replies from employers came back. Not enough work experience. She also lacked confidence at interview. Encouraging, but not what we need right now.
The months passed and her confidence ebbed.
The story of Sofia is an all too common in East London. Youth unemployment is again rising. Long-term unemployment is double what it was in 2010. Worse, the Tories now admit they have ‘lost’ a further 150,000 young people from records. As they enter the world of work, young people like Sofia desperately need a Government on their side.
Under the Tories, they simply haven’t got one.
That’s why I was proud to vote for the Labour Youth Jobs Guarantee in Parliament last week. It’s a vital measure which will support young people gain confidence, work experience and a sense of a future. It’s a one-off tax on bankers which will guarantee young people a job if they’ve been out of work for 12 months. In the first instance, these job will come from the private sector and, in all cases, young people will receive a minimum of 10 hours a week training, said Rushanara Ali MP.
Against Tory Opposition, Labour’s plan is the right one for our communities and economy. If we don’t act now, experts predict that now those young people out of a job, education or training will miss out on over £6 billion of earnings. Young people like Sofia need a Labour Government elected in May to provide opportunities for them and help them to contribute to our economy.