Justine Greening calls for more equal employment opportunities in the North to aid Government’s levelling up agenda

Former Education Secretary Justine Greening has warned that Boris Johnson’s government must open up equal employment opportunities to end regional inequalities.

Rotherham-born Ms Greening, the architect of the Opportunity Areas programme during her time in government, today witnessed first-hand employment opportunities being created at the University of Bradford, in her capacity as head of the Social Mobility Pledge.

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Earlier this year Ms Greening, 51, who was education secretary for two years under Theresa May, launched a 14-point framework for levelling up Britain.

Earlier this year Justine Greening, who was education secretary for two years under Theresa May, launched a 14-point framework for levelling up Britain.

The focus of the framework is on driving equality of opportunity at key life stages, from early years through to careers, alongside the barriers such as the digital divide, health and infrastructure adulthood and to provide a benchmark to track progress.

One of the key goals - to open recruitment - was the latest of the goals to be discussed at a virtual seminar hosted by the University of Bradford.

Ms Greening, who was MP for Putney, in London, until December 2019, stressed the need to increase opportunities for people of "all backgrounds" in the region through transparent, accessible and open recruitment practices.

She said: "The coronavirus pandemic has widened and deepened existing inequalities and disproportionately impacted certain communities in the UK. It has made addressing social mobility and inequality of opportunity even more important.

Pictured, The University of Bradford. The institute hosted an online event today on open recruitment chaired by broadcaster Iain Dale with panellists including Professor Shirley Congdon, the University of Bradford Vice Chancellor and MP for Keighley Robbie Moore. Photo credit: JPIMedia

"Ensuring that all careers and professions are open to anyone, whatever their background, is an important part of the drive to level up Britain."

Ms Greening’s call to action was echoed in the online event which was chaired by broadcaster Iain Dale with panellists including Professor Shirley Congdon, the University of Bradford Vice Chancellor and MP for Keighley Robbie Moore, who chairs the cross-party levelling up goals group in Parliament.

Included in the 14 point framework is also the call to close the early years development gap by delivering the best possible start for every child. And creating more opportunities in higher education, employment or training.

Professor Congdon said: “We will continue to focus on removing barriers so that anyone regardless of background, has an equal opportunity to access not only higher education, but any career or profession they wish.

Professor Shirley Congdon, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bradford. Photo credit: JPIMedia

“Ultimately this benefits students but it has a wider impact in terms of levelling up, benefiting local businesses and the regional economy.”

Mr Moore added: “For too long, towns like the one I represent in Keighley and Ilkley have lived in the shadows of our big cities like Leeds and Bradford.

“These 14 clear objectives aim to unite MPs of all parties, businesses, communities and our civil society as we build back from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.”

A Government spokesperson said: "We are committed to levelling up opportunities across the whole of the UK as we build back better from the pandemic. Our comprehensive action to spread prosperity across the length and breadth of the country includes our Plan for Jobs – a package of measures to support jobs and skills in every part of the UK.

"We’ve also invested £100 billion in infrastructure this year, created a new £4 billion Levelling Up Fund, are establishing Freeports across the UK and will open a new UK infrastructure bank in the North in the coming year that will play a key role in levelling up across the country."

For more information about the 14 levelling up goals, visit here.

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