I am pleased to say that, because of the changes made by this Government, we have record levels of employment—up 3.4 million since 2010—and the female unemployment rate is currently at a record low.
Recent figures show that unemployment in my constituency continues to fall. What plans does the Secretary of State have to reduce it further by working with businesses and further education colleges to ensure that young people have the skills needed for today’s workplace?
I thank my hon. Friend for the good work that he does in his constituency to ensure that unemployment continues to fall. We are committed to providing targeted support to young people, so that everyone—no matter what their start in life—is given the very best chance of getting into work. The Jobcentre Plus support for schools programme helps to improve the employability of young people and has resulted in thousands of children being better equipped for today’s labour market.
Unemployment in my constituency has actually risen by 30% over the past 12 months. Given today’s economic figures, which show very low economic growth over the last seven years, and given the impending doom of no deal, what contingency plans is the Secretary of State making so that unemployment does not rise still further?
I urge the right hon. Gentleman not to be so despondent about the growth figures today. We are seeing growth. Overall employment continues to rise. If he would like to speak to one of us regarding any scheme he has to boost employment in his constituency, I would be pleased to see him.
The hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) asked about employment trends, but one trend that he did not mention is that zero-hours contracts have quadrupled since 2010. This week is HeartUnions Week, so will the Secretary of State join me, the TUC and the Labour party in pledging to ban these disgraceful contracts?
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman may have his facts wrong. Zero-hours contracts are down; 780,000 people are currently on zero-hours contracts, down from 883,000 in the same period in 2017. Overall, we estimate that 2.4% of the employment market are on zero-hours contracts.