I keep a very careful eye on employment in my constituency. The latest local unemployment figures reveal a mixed picture. The number of job vacancies available are increasing - in Truro and Falmouth there are now seven vacancies for every three people claiming Jobseekers Allowance.
However this encouraging trend cannot obscure the large numbers of people now out of work. While below the national average, I am particularly concerned by the numbers of young people in my constituency not in work or training. Youth unemployment is now a Europe-wide issue, an issue that threatens to blight the chances of a generation.
A vigorous and multi-faceted response is needed, in which all politicians must play their part. It is for this reason that I am working with the National Apprenticeship Service to try and generate one hundred new apprenticeships in local businesses over the next hundred days.
Apprenticeships give young people the chance to acquire recognised qualifications and valued skills, acting as a route into sustained and rewarding employment. Apprenticeships have benefits for businesses also; offering an opportunity to nurture talent with financial help from the Government.
I believe that in Cornwall we are well placed to reap the rewards of apprenticeships. We have a historic tradition of technological innovation and commercial enterprise, combined with excellent further education colleges with established working relationships with pioneering businesses. These are great foundations for a renaissance of apprenticeships in Cornwall, nurtured by a Government support package of £1 billion to encourage businesses to employ young people.
The fruits of this investment in apprenticeships are beginning to become apparent; there was a seventeen percent increase in new apprenticeships starting in Truro and Falmouth during the 2010-11.
However more can be done, and I have therefore written to over five hundred businesses in my constituency, highlighting the benefits of apprenticeships and encouraging them to contact the National Apprenticeships Service to find out more.
Any business interested in further exploring apprenticeships can contact my office on 01872 274 760, I will arrange for the Cornwall co-ordinator for the National Apprenticeship Service to get in touch.
In the past month I have also visited a number of local businesses, including Rowes baked goods and Penryn based Kernow Coatings, to discuss apprenticeships and look forward visiting more businesses over the coming months. As well as making the case for apprenticeships, such visits have allowed me to learn more about some of the innovative and brand-leading products manufactured in my constituency.
Another eye-opening scheme I have recently been involved with is the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme. The scheme is open to all parliamentarians and aims to improve the quality of debate on national defence and security issues by providing first hand experience of the work of our armed services.
Last year I spent time with The Terratorial Army in Truro, visited RNAS Culdrose and visited a number of RFA ships in Falmouth. This year I will be spending a lot more time with the Navy and going to sea on board HMS Ocean.