Inspired by young people at the Hive

In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001
In the House with Huw Merriman SUS-151007-132058001

Last Friday, I walked down the road from my constituency office to the Bexhill Hive - Bexhill’s new hub for creative learning and development for young people and adults.

I last visited when it was a building site. One year on, I am inside a smart new complex to meet a hundred young constituents who have been taking part in the National Citizen Service programme.

This programme gives our 15 - 17 years-old the chance to develop life and employability skills, make new friends, learn to work together as a team, and create and deliver a community project of their choice.

What an amazing group of people I met. From presenting to me as their public-speaking exercise, to hitting our streets to raise funds for a wide variety of local causes including the Conquest Hospital, a children’s bereavement charity and a local animal sanctuary, it reinforced my view that the young people in East Sussex have so much to offer to their future workplace and the wider community.

So what does the outlook offer to these gifted young people?

For those of you who believe that work is good for wealth and health, this week was a good one. The number of us in employment is at a record high, with over 75 per cent in work.

Unemployment is at its lowest rate for over 40 years. Since 2010, over 3 million new jobs have been created, with over 75 per cent of these full-time. For those who ask if these are all going to those from outside the UK, nine in ten people in jobs are UK nationals. For those who are concerned about zero-hours contracts, there are less than a million in existence and the numbers fell last month. For those looking for work, we have just under 800,000 job vacancies to fill.

There is, of course, more to be done. Next week, I am spending a day with our local Jobcentre Plus team to discuss how the new benefit system, Universal Credit, will encourage more people to transition from the benefits system to work. I will do so, inspired by the young people I met in the Hive.

Thanks to them, I am even more determined to ensure that the potential I witnessed last week delivers in this beautiful location which acts as our home.