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Mark Casci: Fair deal for young people key to region’s fairer future

A report found that 44% of children avoid using the toilet at school at some point.
A report found that 44% of children avoid using the toilet at school at some point.
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The economic growth seen in Yorkshire’s cities since the recession has been strong and is testimony to the resilience and creativity seen across our business leaders.

Certainly the appearance of our larger cities is unrecognisable in some quarters to 10-15 years ago, such is the scale of the regenerative work that has gone on there.

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday October 16.''File photo dated 20/12/11 of workers at the Black Country Food Bank preparing food parcels as Prime Minister David Cameron has come under pressure to launch an inquiry into why people are turning to foodbanks as demand for emergency supplies continues to surge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday October 16, 2013. More than 350,000 people received a three-day food package from the Trussell Trust between April and September, three times as many as the same period last year. It has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the "scandalous" problem of food poverty, warning some foodbank recipients are so poor they have returned produce that needs cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it up. See PA story POLITICS  Foodbanks. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday October 16.''File photo dated 20/12/11 of workers at the Black Country Food Bank preparing food parcels as Prime Minister David Cameron has come under pressure to launch an inquiry into why people are turning to foodbanks as demand for emergency supplies continues to surge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday October 16, 2013. More than 350,000 people received a three-day food package from the Trussell Trust between April and September, three times as many as the same period last year. It has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the "scandalous" problem of food poverty, warning some foodbank recipients are so poor they have returned produce that needs cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it up. See PA story POLITICS Foodbanks. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire

However, despite the strong feelings on national pride engendered by the England football team’s fine performance over the weekend, it often feels as though we are an increasingly divided nation.

Brexit is commonly brought up as the exemple du jour for such a state of being but the partitions to which I refer have nothing to do with regards to those who feel exiting or remaining in the European Union is a good thing.

Inequality is never more cruel than when it affects young people.

HMRC figures show that one in every third child In Hull currently is classed as living in poverty. One in three.

Trinity Leeds and White Rose Shopping Centre will be turning their roofs green tomorrow in support of World Environment Day

Trinity Leeds and White Rose Shopping Centre will be turning their roofs green tomorrow in support of World Environment Day

The most up-to-date statistic show that 25,000 people in Leeds have had to rely on a foodbank to eat, with 164,000 people in the city living in areas that are ranked amongst the most deprived 10 per cent nationally. The picture doesn’t change much around the rest of Yorkshire.

These are the extreme end of the statistics but then broaden it out more generally.

Moving out of our cities, so often the source of our focus and to lesser populated rural areas and the situation can often be bleak, as poor digital and transport infrastructure make doing homework a tough prospect.

Indeed the Campaign to Protect Rural England has just this week published data showing our Local Enterprise Partnerships are marginalising rural communities.

If children cannot get the same digital access as those in urban areas then this is the definition of a two-tier system. Similarly, if they have to wait aeons for under-funded and out of date buses and trains, travelling upon which takes up so much of their valuable time, then we are failing them.

Leeds City Council this week publishes in its Inclusive Growth Strategy to set out a blueprint for making the city fairer.

I applaud the measures and wish it every success, but the answers to making sure everyone gets a fair shot at life cannot come from local authorities.

More generally our larger companies are increasingly waking up to the fact that an apprenticeship scheme will work wonders for your business at every level.

Identifying school-children with promise and drive at an early age and giving them the chance at a career outside the university route, which is far too prohibitively expensive for too many young people, will give a firm a more diverse and interesting workforce.

Many firms are doing this but not enough. Those not doing so need to start today.

This intervention process is a hugely valuable one, and an ethos which should be at the heart of Government policy. Gaining a glimpse of the world of work is a massive step towards diverting young people away from the world of worklessness.

Just four exposures to employment for a young person means he or she is five times less likely to become a so-called NEET, (not in education, employment or training) after leaving school.

More than ever in life role models are extremely important.

Recent research has blown apart the myth that our children are hellbent on becoming vapid celebrities from reality television, with medicine, engineering, professional sport and teaching the most commonly selected professions.

The more we can convince young people that success is a route available to everyone, including them, then the greater the chances of fairness become.

The gleaming shopping centres, glass-fronted office blocks and appeal to international business, the fact remains that Leeds is home to some of the poorest areas in the country.

Making our region prosperous is one thing, but there are many prosperous regions nationally and internationally.

One that brings everyone along for the ride, now that can be the envy of the world.