Here is more on the Ipswich futures conference………
As part of the presentation there was a section on education, including truancy figures which were a little above average. The figures show that at school girls are achieving more than boys in school. This is a national trend. But, women in Ipswich earn on average £3000 less annually than men. There is no reason as to why this is the case. Girls come out of school with better grades, yet can expect to earn less. This just goes to show how the gender pay gap is still a very real thing. So sad in 2014, we have a long way to go still.
Ipswich has a skills gap. Employers in the town state they cannot always find people with the relevant skills to fill vacancies. My big concern here is that education is currently in the turmoil of Gove, with a shrinking curriculum, and unhappy workforce. Teaching is not a nice place to be at the moment, teaching to exams that change every year, education is no longer a vocation but a box ticking exercise. Central government is decimating education budgets, expecting more to be done with less money, and less teaching hours, its impossible. Locally, Suffolk New College and UCS are facing cuts and redundancies.
How is Ipswich going to improve the skills of our young people and the future of our workforce if our educational establishments are not able to deliver quality qualifications and a progression pathway? Where else can we look to deliver training and experience? Local business? High Schools? There is also a need for aspiration to be developed in schools, showing young people what they can be and how they can achieve it. This all costs money, but if there is one thing we should invest in its education, its our future. Where can the money come from? I don’t know the answers but is was good to begin the discussion today.
In the afternoon we had a session on Inclusive Ipswich: Well being and opportunity
This was in four sections the first of these was Poverty and progression. This highlighted that Ipswich has a low pay problem. Those below the poverty line are mostly working. There are 6.1 million poor, in work in the UK. Minimum wage is not enough to live on now, especially if you have dependants. The living wage has been calculated to be the amount you need to live on. I’m proud to say that Ipswich Borough Council is a living wage employer, and I hope this will make a difference to workers lives in Ipswich. If more employers could make a commitment to the living wage we could bring many out of poverty.
Then there is the low pay, no pay cycle. Minimum wage work can often be short term or fixed term, meaning people come in and out of low paid jobs frequently. The Tory spun myths that the unemployed are sucking the country dry in disproved by the statistics.
74% of JSA claimants come off this benefit within 6 months.
46% who come off JSA will go back on to it in future because of the low pay, no pay cycle
In the hope of breaking this vicious circle so many are trapped in we need to look at education, and a route into long term employment. We need to make education more accessible for those who didn’t do so well at high school. Giving them an opportunity through work based training, apprenticeships and these routes having a clear progression to employment. This of course yet again highlights the importance of education in the town.