YOUNG Wearsiders are at risk of becoming part of a “lost generation” confined to the dole queue, Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned
Mr Miliband slammed Government policies that are preventing Sunderland becoming a “powerhouse” for manufacturing and new green industries.
As latest unemployment figures revealed more than 12 per cent of Wearside youngsters are still out of work, Mr Miliband said: “It’s terrible. I think Sunderland could be a good place to be if you were a young person looking for work, but the current Government is making it very difficult.”
Mr Miliband said Government failings risked seeing a “lost generation of young people who can’t find work” and called on ministers to do more to support economic growth and create jobs.
The Leader of the Opposition was visiting Sunderland’s Liebherr crane manufacturing plant in Ayres Quay where he met with managers and held a question-and-answer session with workers as part of a national tour of work places.
“This area could be a powerhouse of manufacturing,” he said. “We can’t just run our economy on financial services.
“High-end, high-tech manufacturing is incredibly important for the economic future of our country. That’s why I’m here.”
He added: “One of the ways in which we can compete in the world is with having that high-end manufacturing industry.
“It will be vital to the future of the country.
“We have to change the way in which the economy works.
“It is not just about spending more money, it’s about saying how do we get more factories like this one.”
Wearside bucked the national trend yesterday when the figures from the Office for National Statistics showed unemployment had fallen slightly from 10,418 to 10,138.
But the overall picture remained bleak, with 146,000 people in the North East without work and the region’s unemployment rate – 11.6 per cent – the highest of any region.
But with so many young people still out of work, Mr Miliband said more active policies were needed to ensure Sunderland could prosper in the future.
Liebherr workers asked questions on VAT, university fees and immigration – and highlighted the need for more engineering and manufacturing jobs in Wearside.
Liebherr, which exports cranes around the world, is the last factory on the banks of the Wear.
Mr Miliband said there was massive opportunity for jobs in the offshore wind industry being created in the city, but America and other European countries were ready to snap up the work.
He said manufacturing had a vital role to play in the future of the country – and Wearside and the North East should be at the centre of that.
“I grew up in the 1980s and at the comprehensive school I went to, a lot of people left and ended up without work and I don’t want to see that happen again – where there is a danger of a lost generation of young people who can’t find work,” he said.
Mr Miliband visited the region on the day Aluminium smelter company Rio Tinto Alcan, based in Northumberland, announced the loss of 515 jobs.