The number of people in employment has increased by more than 3 million since 2010 to reach 32 million in the last quarter. The employment rate is close to the record high and has increased by almost five percentage points since 2010.
Despite a small recent decline in total employment, unemployment has continued to fall. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this suggests that the Government’s policies and the work of our great jobcentres across the country are making all the difference in matching jobseekers with available jobs? As it is Christmas, would he thank Ian Spalding—the manager of the Newark jobcentre—and his fantastic staff for ensuring that unemployment in Newark is now at 1%?
I will very happily join my hon. Friend in thanking Ian Spalding and, indeed, Jobcentre Plus staff up and down the country, who do a fantastic job in helping to reduce unemployment. I think that the claimant count in Newark has fallen by 42% since 2010. In the meetings that I have had with jobcentre staff across the country, I have seen that they are enthusiastically implementing universal credit because they can see that it will help them to make further progress.
Is the Secretary of State not aware that hundreds of thousands of people in this country are yearning for a good and well-paid job? Many are young people who cannot get an apprenticeship. Apprenticeship starts are down by 62% this year and further education colleges are in trouble. When is he going to do something about training young people and really giving them the chance of a good job on good pay?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the recent apprenticeship numbers were affected by a spike at the end of the previous period, but the reality is that we have substantially increased the number of apprenticeships in recent years. We have introduced the apprenticeship levy, which puts apprenticeships on a sustainable financial footing. It is this Government, with our industrial strategy, who are ensuring that we create the highly skilled jobs that the country needs.