It was great to be able to open the new Technical Skills Academy in Barking town centre recently. I was joined by Ed Balls MP and we were given a guided tour of this fantastic new facility in the heart of Barking.
When I first became MP, Marks & Spencer was just moving out and the town centre was unwelcoming. There’s more to do, but today we have the Learning Centre and the Barking Enterprise Centre together with new housing and a more pleasant and welcoming public space opposite the town hall.
We also have the Creative industries quarter in Abbey Road home to the Malthouse and the Granary building.
The Technical Skills Academy is part of the changing face of Barking town centre.
Locally, there are nearly 7,000 people out of work, with 7 people chasing every job. The figure for those people without a job for more than 12 months has doubled from 930 in May 2010 to 2,155 people today and there are 1,830 young people looking for work locally.
Getting the right skills is more important than ever. It’s even more important to help young people develop their skills so that they can progress into the job market.
Barking is becoming a more attractive place from which to run your business. We’ve got some good businesses in the borough and they are looking for people with the right skills, training and commitment.
I want to see more vacancies being filled by local people and the Technical Skills Academy will play a vital role in helping to achieve this.