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John Denham MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary set out this morning the scale of the long term economic challenge facing the UK, saying in a ‘State of Britain’ speech that Britain’s economy is betraying the hopes of the young generation and failing to create the skilled, well paid jobs which make the most of and properly reward their skills and abilities.

Speaking to IPPR North in Newcastle, John Denham built upon Ed Miliband’s warning that the ‘British Promise’ – that each generation will do better than the last – was in danger. Denham highlighted that:

  • One in five graduates are not working in graduate jobs.
  • Skills Surveys show that employees who are holding qualifications at a higher level than they need for their job has risen from under a third to half of all employees.
  • In real terms, median earnings flat lined between 2003 to 2008 and in the coming year they are expected to fall.


John Denham MP said:

"Some short-sighted people will conclude that we should have fewer graduates, and that it is not worth studying or improving skills.

"I say that these are warning signs of an economy which will not be able to compete in tough global markets, which will rely on ever more competitive companies operating at the highest level of productivity and innovation."

Pledging the next Labour Government to a "single minded focus on creating the conditions for private sector companies to grow and create jobs", John Denham acknowledged that these challenges are deep-seated, and cannot all be blamed on the Tory-led government but that current Government policies are "making the problem worse".

He laid out that the Tory-led Governme nt does not grasp how active Government policies can foster the right conditions for successful private companies to grow, including in the crucial new sectors of the economy. 

John Denham MP, outlining the single minded focus on private sector growth, continued:

"Advanced manufacturing must be part of this, but so must other sectors with huge growth potential: across a range of green technologies and in the life sciences; our creative industries have a strong position in global markets, as does higher education and, increasingly, further education; business services from design and architecture to law and accountancy have global reach.

"This economy needs both the world players and the SMEs in these sectors. We need to be a country where the global companies feel they must be part of, and a country where smaller companies can innovate grow and prosper. These are indeed, huge opportunities, that are within our grasp. 

"If we can be confide nt of success in these sectors then we can tell a strong story of what Britain will look like in the future. We will be able to tell young people what jobs and opportunities will be there for them if they aim high enough.

"But we are seeing a badly managed retreat from an active government strategy with business support dismantled, incoherent policy making in the green economy, uncertainty over key infrastructure like broadband, confusion over planning policies, reduced investment in regional growth and in the high-tech economy, and universities focussed entirely on the new fees rather than working with business.

"The Tory-led Government offers a dismal and pessimistic view of Britain’s future workplaces, in which any growth depends on making working lives less secure and less well rewarded."

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