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How we’re turning jabs into jobs

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Turn jabs, jabs, jabs into jobs, jobs, jobs. The Prime Minister’s phrase is a neat shorthand focusing on the effectiveness of the vaccines to enable the lifting of restrictions, the re-opening of the economy, and getting growth going again.

That approach is working.

Around 110 million vaccine jabs have been given in under a year since the rollout began.

Covid-19 vaccine.
Covid-19 vaccine.

That is a tremendous achievement for the NHS, volunteers, the scientists and private sector who helped develop the vaccines, and everyone involved.

We know that the strong protection the jabs offer does begin to wane after six months. But new data shows that boosters give over 90 per cent protection against symptomatic Covid-19 in adults over 50.

Some 13 million booster jabs have been given and this week the government accepted the recommendation of the expert committee on vaccination to offer the booster jab to people aged 40-49, as well as a second dose to 16-17 year olds.

Covid-19 vaccine and syringe.
Covid-19 vaccine and syringe.

If you haven’t had your first, second, or indeed booster jabs then do come forward and get them.

The success of the vaccination programme meant that many people could join the Remembrance Sunday service in Tower Gardens, in Hunstanton, and across West Norfolk. After a very limited event last year, it was encouraging that so many groups could pay their respects. The images of Scotty’s Little Soldiers in the march past the Cenotaph certainly captured public affection.

So the jabs are working. And figures released this week reveal that the Plan for Jobs is working. The number of people in employment rose by 160,000 in October – well above pre-pandemic levels and unemployment has fallen for nine months in a row.

When the pandemic hit, a major concern I had was the impact it would have on young people looking for a job. Mitigating that was an issue I discussed early on with Jobcentre Plus, local businesses, and ministers. As part of help the government put in place, the £2 billion Kickstart enables businesses to create six-month jobs for 16-24 year olds claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment.

New figures show that so far 70 young people in the area have been helped into Kickstart roles. This provides skills, experience, and opportunities for young people to get on the jobs ladder. When I spent time with the work coaches in Jobcentre Plus in Lynn recently it was encouraging to hear about the impact on the individuals and examples of these roles turning into permanent positions.

However, there are 2,025 people in North West Norfolk claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit seeking work. While this represents 3.7% of the population aged 16-64 compared to a national rate of 4.8%, it is vital that those looking for work are supported to find a role. Part of that is provided by the Restart Scheme, helping the long-term unemployed; the Job Entry Targeted Support scheme supporting those unemployed for over three months; and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, offering adults a free qualification at any point in their life.

So anyone looking for a role should take up the support that is available to help them move into the many vacancies locally.

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