Helping People into work since 1910

Posted: 01/02/10

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the first Labour exchanges set up to help people find work. There were just 62 Labour exchanges when they were first introduced on 1 February 1910. Each had separate entrances for men and women, the skilled and unskilled were kept apart and children as young as 11 were regularly seen in the queues.

We have come a long way since then. Labour exchanges have become Jobcentre Plus centres. We now have 750 newly designed centres around the country staffed by over 78,000 employees and with jobs that range from security guards to graphic designers and beyond.

The investment that your Labour Government has put into Jobcentre Plus along with other actions taken have ensured that we have avoided a recession like the 1980s and 1990s where millions of unemployed people - including hundreds of thousands of unemployed young people - were abandoned without the support they needed. Many communities experienced a generation of worklessness because of this negligence and many still bear the scars of long-term unemployment.

The values which drove the creation of the first Labour exchanges 100 years ago still motivate us today: the principle that people should be given a helping hand to enable them to get on; that we can't simply walk by on the other side of the road.

We have done everything possible over the last sixteen months in the aftermath of the financial crisis to keep unemployment down and to make sure every young person has the help they need to find work, training, skills and experience.

We have:

•Established the Young Person's Guarantee which gives every young person who is unemployed for six months a guaranteed the offer of a job, training or work experience.
•Worked with employers in our Backing Young Britain scheme to encourage them to bid for 100,000 jobs for young people in the Government's Future Jobs Fund, and to provide work experience, apprenticeship and internship places.
•Taken decisive action in the economic downturn by putting in the extra money which has kept unemployment 450,000 lower than expected and last month saw a fall in the levels of people out of work.

But we need to carry on helping people, not cut back on these schemes as the Conservatives want to do. Only by investing in helping people - as we have done for 100 years - can we make sure that people, and especially young people, do not suffer the scarring effects of long term unemployment like those who grew up in the 1980s and 90s did.