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East Midlands Chamber News

President reacts to claims that migrant workers are taking youth jobs

On his final day in office, outgoing Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce (DNCC) President Ian Greenaway has echoed comments made by the Prime Minister and his new Skills Minister Matthew Hancock about the way young people are prepared for the workplace.

The West Suffolk MP, who was promoted from Parliamentary Under Secretary of Skills to Minister in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, said earlier this week that the UK “…has a record number of jobs and we’ve got to make sure that as people leave school, they are in a position to take those jobs. Likewise, employers should look at local young people.”

He made the comments after Prime Minister David Cameron delivered a speech claiming that migrant workers are taking UK jobs because Britain's schools are failing to produce young people with proper skills.

Mr Greenaway, who stands down as Chamber President at DNCC’s Annual General Meeting later today (31 Oct), said: “It horrifies me to think that we have young people in the UK today who can’t get jobs and yet we happily welcome migrant workers into those posts.

“I accept that an indigenous school leaver today couldn’t walk into a job as a doctor or architect and there will always be a need for people with that skill level which is often met by economic migrants, but when you talk about the lower-grade jobs there should be protections in place to make sure we serve our young people first.

“I believe, as the Prime Minister and Matthew Hancock said, that this is a more a damning indictment of the job-preparedness of our school leavers than the quality of migrant workers coming to the UK and this is something I am campaigning hard to improve.”

To clarify DNCC's position, following reports on this story in the media, Mr Greenaway added:

"The one thing I would like to make crystal clear is that I'm not saying that businesses shouldn't be allowed to employ whoever they want - they absolutely should be.

"The point I was trying to make is that what horrifies me is we still have the situation where on the one hand we have 1m NEETs unemployed in this country because they lack the employability skills that businesses are looking for, yet we've seen 1m jobs go to migrant workers in the past few years. The system is clearly failing our young people if we can't equip them with the skills they need to compete for the jobs available.

"This is what I flagged with both the departments for Education and for Business, Skills and Innovation at the start of this campaign and I find it extremely frustrating that here we are two years down the line with seemingly no progress having been made."