Latest figures reveal that the number of people in work in the UK is at a record high. Wages are growing at their fastest pace in a decade – outstripping inflation and putting more money into people’s pockets.
That’s good news, but what does it mean for us in Cheltenham? Unemployment here is even lower than the national average, but that shouldn’t mean we rest on our laurels. That’s because for decades there have been pockets of intense social deprivation in our town, and there’s a moral imperative to turn that situation around.
Huge potential exists in young people from all backgrounds waiting to be unlocked. As Winston Churchill put it, “There is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man.”
It’s that core motivation that lies behind my enthusiasm to champion Cheltenham’s cyber future. When I first launched the vision for our town as a national cyber hub back in 2014 in a speech at local business Converge Ltd, I was inspired by the thought of what we could do to generate job opportunities to transform the life chances of people from all backgrounds.
That vision is unfolding apace, and I was delighted last week when local universities and colleges, including UGlos and GlosCol, were awarded a multi-million pound cash boost to develop the Government's Institute of Technology programme.
This funding will deliver higher level technical training in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects, and develop state-of-the-art facilities to support STEM training including a facility adjacent to the proposed cyber park.
This comes on top of the £22m allocated by central Government to develop the Cheltenham cyber vision, and will help build a conveyor belt of local cyber and STEM talent.
With cyber growing at around 10% per year, generating well-paid jobs, Cheltenham is well placed to be in the vanguard – securing a better future for all our young people.