HC Deb 14 March 2001 vol 364 cc615-6W
Mr. Michael Jabez Foster

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the Government's plans are for achieving full employment. [153896]

Mr. Blunkett

Today we are launching the Green Paper "Towards full employment in a modem society" jointly with the Treasury and the Department of Social Security. It sets out our plan for achieving sustained full employment over the next decade in every part of the country.

We will continue our crusade to eradicate long-term unemployment. The strong and stable economy provides a firm foundation for enabling job opportunities for all. Through the welfare to work agenda we have shown that the key to helping unemployed people back to work is making sure that they have the skills to be able to take up these opportunities. This approach has helped over 270,000 long-term unemployed young people back into work, and has helped see unemployment fall to its lowest level since the 1970s.

We will focus on helping people into work, but also to stay in work and gain the skills they need to progress in work. By raising the skills, employability and aspirations of those who need the most help, we are also providing insurance against a return to unemployment. People equipped with the skills employers need will find it much easier to get straight back into work.

To help ensure that the economy can maintain its stability, we will broaden the scope of our welfare to work programmes to cover those who are economically inactive as well as the long-term unemployed. The Working Age Agency will transform the way in which we deliver support in finding work to all people of working age.

We are setting ambitious targets to deliver this agenda. Our vision is of a high skills, high productivity and high employment economy which makes the most of everybody's skills and experiences. This strategy to deliver full employment will improve the lives of millions of people, and will deliver individual and national success.