Employment Minister Esther McVey has described claims that job growth is being fueled by part-time and temporary work as “scare stories” and “a myth.”
The jobs Secretary was in town to record an episode of BBC Question Time and prior to the recording visited G W Martin engineering works accompanied by the Conservative candidate for Eastleigh Mims Davies.
Figures have been released which show a drop nationally in unemployment and the latest data on Eastleigh’s jobseekers also shows that the number has fallen to it’s lowest recorded level.
In 2010 there were 2094 registered jobseekers, but last month this dropped to only 608 – just 0.8% of the working population – while 87% are described as ‘economically active’.
A spokesperson for Mims Davies told Eastleigh News that since the Conservatives took office in 2010 the number of jobseekers in Eastleigh had reduced by 57%.
Speaking to reporter Ryan Hewlett, Esther McVey described businesses like Martins’ as “the backbone of the country.”
“We have had another good month for unemployment, we’ve got record numbers of people into work, 30.8 million.
“We have also got the unemployment rate at a six year low below six per cent.
“Job vacancies are at a fourteen year high 700,000 vacancies but more importantly of 80% those jobs, nearly two million, are full-time jobs
“75% are managerial, high-skilled and professional, so the scare stories you hear and the myths you hear about what sort of jobs they are?
“The vast majority are full time and professional.”
Also announced this week was an increase in average wages so Hewlett also asked the Minister if wage growth was good for employers.
McVey told him:
“As the country is doing better; as businesses are doing better; that has got to feed through to the employer.
“It’s good to have wage growth averaging now at two percent and set to grow by 3% to 4 % but at the same time inflation has gone down to 0.5% – to make sure that people really are feeling the benefit of the extra hours they’ve got.”
The Minister was taken on a tour of Martin’s shop floor by Managing Director Stuart Yalden and CEO Graham Martin.
Martin’s have been at the Bishopstoke Rd site for almost 50 years and pride themselves on being a family business – three generations of the Martin family have been involved and currently 44 people are employed there.
The company fulfills national and international contracts and say they have a full order book.
The company is also proud of their links with Eastleigh College and the Minister was introduced to some of the firm’s seven apprentices.
Stuart Yalden said:
“Finding the right skills is a real challenge we have a very skilled team and are looking to develop the skills of the people that we have so training is a very important part of that.
“Going out to market to find new skills as an expanding business is a challenge though at apprentice level we do get some very good bright people coming through from Eastleigh college.”
Yalden added that there has been a drop off in the number of skilled people who are available and who are in the middle of their career so the company was committed to up-skilling existing staff, but there was little government support for training older members of the workforce.
CEO Graham Martin said he was sceptical about claimed wage growth but both the CEO and MD agreed they ensured that they paid a competitive wage in order to attract and retain staff with the right skills.
Graham Martin said:
“We need skilled people in the country.
“Too many people have gone to university who should have gone into training for jobs which is why as a country we are bringing in so many skilled people from overseas.”
Martin also said he thought engineering failed to attract people because it suffered from an unglamorous image of “dirty hands in oil” even though much of the work these days involves the use of computer-controlled machinery and minimal manual handling.
Eastleigh Conservative candidate Mims Davies told Eastleigh News that she thought Martins was a “fantastic” business:
“I’m pleased to be able to help promote their great work by bringing the employment minister here today.”
Davies said that if she was elected she would try to help businesses in the Town Centre by trying to find ways to ease road congestion.
Davies referred to the current Town Centre traffic levels and rush hour gridlock as ‘strangulatory’ and accused the current Lib Dem council leadership of “sitting on their hands and doing nothing.”
“To keep the economy positive we need to do something about it.”
“The Town Centre is a worry, there has been a lack of leadership in driving footfall back into Eastleigh stores or to stop them relocating to out of town locations – which is against the National Policy Planning Framework.”
Later that evening while introducing BBC Question Time, host David Dimbleby described Eastleigh as “a key battleground in the forthcoming General Election.”
Once again, Eastleigh folk can expect to see many high profile visitors between now and May 7.