Amanda Solloway - Issue 3 - Winter 2015 - University of Derby

Building Britain's 'Engine for Growth'

Derby is a city steeped in engineering and manufacturing history. We have a great heritage, with the Silk Mill and Darley Abbey Mills being prime examples of this.

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And whether it’s cars, trains, planes or even nuclear reactors, Derby has cemented itself as one of this country’s leading manufacturing cities. So it was of little surprise when I read the recent announcement that Derby has been named as a top ten city for job creation in the country.

It is our rich history in both engineering and manufacturing that mean as a city, we have one of the fastest growing economies in the country. So how have we achieved this?

The success of companies such as Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Bombardier have certainly had a part to play. As their businesses have expanded, so has their demand for more workers. We have seen record low levels of unemployment in Derby over the past five years, and as our local economy continues to grow, we need to make sure unemployment is a statistic that continues to fall.

As the demand for workers increases, it’s crucial that we have a strong local supply of skilled individuals who can satisfy this demand. To address this, schemes such as apprenticeships and local initiatives will play a vital role.

"it’s crucial that we have a strong local supply of skilled individuals"

Recently I took part in a parliamentary debate which focused on helping young jobseekers find employment. Youth unemployment remains an issue across the country, and in Derby it has been highlighted that often jobs are available but those with the skills required to fill them are not. However during my short time as a local MP, I have seen some great steps that are being taken to help bridge this gap.

Coming from a manufacturing city and with a business background in the sector, I cannot overlook the importance of first-hand work experience in preparing the younger generation for work.

Since the government placed an emphasis on getting more young people into apprenticeships, we have seen a large increase of participants in Derby. They have proven to be very successful, and demand for places continues to increase. Why? Because we are now recognising that first-hand work experience provides the education and skills that are required to fulfil many of the roles now available on the job market.

It is an exciting time for Derby as a city, and for the Midlands as a region. The government wants the Midlands to become Britain’s ‘Engine for Growth’ and I have no doubt that if we continue to create more jobs, and train and develop workers to fill them, then Derby will be a key component of this Engine.

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