Today marks the launch of the first ever UK Employability Day, when businesses dedicated to helping people into work will open their doors to showcase what they do best.
It’s a fantastic idea by the Employment Related Services Association that will see more than 70 employment centres across the country take part – including several nearby to my very own constituency of Witham in Essex.
These businesses will lift the lid on how the employment sector works hard to help jobseekers off benefits and into work, extending opportunity to all so that everyone has the chance to get on in life.
There have been some excellent results. For example, since this government launched the Work Programme in 2011, more than half-a-million jobseekers have been helped into regular and meaningful employment.
That’s half-a-million people who are enjoying the benefits of a regular pay cheque and the security that it brings to them and their family. On top of this, we gave 1.3m workers a pay rise with the introduction of the highly-anticipated National Living Wage.
By the end of this Parliament, 1.9m women and 1m men will benefit from more cash in their pockets.
There’s no denying that the UK job market is in a far better place than it was in 2010, with a record 31.4m people in work, more than 750,000 vacancies at any one time and with the number of people claiming unemployment benefits at its lowest level since 1975.
As part of our objective to achieve full employment, our sights remain firmly fixed on creating 2m more jobs and 3m more apprenticeships.
We cannot afford to stand still and, with so much positive work underway, the time has come to build on the success of previous employment schemes.
The new Work and Health Programme will do precisely that by ensuring that support continues to be targeted towards those who need it most, including the long-term unemployed and people with health conditions and disabilities.
We’re committed to halving the employment disability gap and transforming practice and public attitudes so that hundreds of thousands more disabled people who can and want to be in work are supported to meet their full potential.
Independent employment providers will continue to have a part to play in delivering these important services and I wish them the very best of luck for today’s inaugural Employability Day.