Yesterday, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to launch ‘Employ Crawley’, the first part of our Jobs and Skills Plan and a project designed to offer better career opportunities for local residents though providing access to the jobs, skills and training they need.
It’s an ambitious project and very similar to one announced in Jeremy Corbyn’s Conference speech.
Jobs and skills are going to play an increasingly important role in local and national policy and earlier this week I met with the new administration at Crawley College to discuss their plans for the future. More information to follow soon, in the meantime my speech at the launch can be found below.
Thank you all for coming today and for the vast amount of work I know it has taken to make this project possible.
Crawley has always been blessed with low unemployment. The light industries which moved from London to Manor Royal with the first generation of New Towners provided easy access to jobs, and despite a decline in their workforce over time the expansion of Gatwick Airport and retail filled the gap until they became the dominant sources of our local employment.
Today, Crawley has the second highest density of jobs outside of London and yet that masks a hidden problem. While the initial light industrial jobs were skilled, the jobs which took their place have been either lesser skilled or unskilled and with that has come poorer pay.
That isn’t to say that our local economy no longer has skilled posts and better paid work, but it is no longer Crawley residents who are benefiting from those better remunerated posts. The pay gap between the average salary paid by Crawley’s employers and the average take home pay of our residents is measured in the thousands.
It was clear that something needed to be done to address this and other structural issues in Crawley’s labour market, which is why three years ago we kicked-off a programme which restructured the council to create an organisation more readily able to play an active role in local economic development and put together the Crawley Jobs and Skills Plan, of which Employ Crawley forms part.
Interestingly, many of the issues and solutions we foresaw have formed part of discussions at the recent political conferences. A positive step to see politicians at the national level waking up to the challenge, even if they’re coming to it a little late.
We’re here today to launch Employ Crawley, a partnership between public and voluntary sector organisations to help residents access the jobs, skills and training they need to take their career to the next level. This will not only help those entering the labour market for the first time, but those already in work who find themselves in need of support to move on. After all, if the newspapers this morning have taught us anything it’s a P45 can come when you least expect it.
Crawley and our partners are working to deliver better job opportunities for the local economy and with Employ Crawley the aspirations of our residents will be ready to reach out and grasp them. Thank you.