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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Focus on youth

I HAVE been focusing on helping young people in South Lakes recently.

Tim Farron
Tim Farron

Although we have one of the lower rates of unemployment in the country, I know how tough things are for young people, how hard it is to find a job that pays a reasonable income, how difficult it is to afford somewhere to live when you leave home and what limited facilities there are for young people in our area. I make a special effort to stay in touch with the needs of young people through my annual survey. If you or someone you know who would like to have their views heard, then please take part, you simply go to http://survey.libdems.org.uk/take/503 and fill in the questions.

I was really pleased to hear that our local county councillors also share my concerns and have announced plans to invest in apprenticeship schemes in our part of the world. Their announcement brings the total that the local committee have invested in encouraging small and medium sized businesses to more than £100,000. I am convinced that the approach adopted by the previous government, of encouraging as many people as possible to go to university, is not necessarily the best solution for everyone.

Many young people I speak to are keen to stop their academic studies as soon as they finish their school exams to start to work and learn a skill. In the rush to get everyone into university, and deliver Tony Blair’s target of 50 per cent of students studying for a degree, apprenticeship schemes got forgotten. They are a brilliant way to train young people with the skills needed by our manufacturing industry.

I think that we have all learned that the over dependency on the financial and other service industries is not necessarily a good thing for the country. Actually making things that people can buy (as they do in many European countries) is really important – not just for the economy but for how happy people feel at work. If you know anyone with a business that would benefit from employing apprentices, then please do get in touch, I will put you in contact with the right people.

I was also pleased to learn that the same group agreed to continue with their support of the A2B NoW card. This allows anyone aged under 18 to only pay £1 for any bus journey that starts in South Lakeland (except for a few times on school days). If you know anyone in this age band who uses the bus and has not yet got one of these cards, you owe it to them to ensure that they fill in their application as soon as possible. It is throwing money away not to have one.

All of this came in the week when I had my own 42nd birthday, sadly way too old to get a £1 bus fare. Thanks to everyone who sent me best wishes, I had a lovely day.

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