Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali is helping teens into employment

PUBLISHED: 11:14 25 February 2015 | UPDATED: 11:14 25 February 2015

Rushanara Ali

Rushanara Ali


Imagine a girl called Sofia – 19-years-old. She could be your daughter, or cousin. You might know a person like her – your granddaughter, or neighbour.

Born in Tower Hamlets, she was educated in a state-of-the-art school and enjoyed it. She was surrounded by committed teachers ready to help launch her next stage of life. She had ambitions, like so many of our energetic and aspirational young people.

But when she left school, the support seemed to dry up. She sent application after application – but without success.

Job centres didn’t talk to her like a 19-year-old. Replies from employers came back. Not enough work experience. Lacked confidence at interview. Encouraging, but not what we need. Months passed and her confidence ebbed.

Her story is all too common in East London. Youth unemployment is again rising. Long-term unemployment is double what it was in 2010. Worse, the Tories admit they have “lost” a further 150,000 young people from records. They simply haven’t got a government on their side.

That’s why I was proud to vote for the Labour Youth Jobs Guarantee in Parliament last week. It’s a one-off tax on bankers which will guarantee young people a job if they’ve been out of work for a year. In the first instance, these jobs will come from the private sector and, in all cases, they receive a minimum of 10 hours a week training.

If we don’t act now, experts predict those young people out of a job, education or training will miss out on over £6 billion of earnings. People like Sofia need a Labour government elected in May to provide opportunities and help them to contribute to our economy.

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