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Sarah Yong makes her maiden speech at Spring Conference

March 13, 2012 8:56 PM

Federal Conference Committee accepted an amendment moved by Sarah Yong at Spring Conference on the motion "Giving Young People a Future" (Combating Youth Unemployment) with the insertion of the following paragraph after line 8 of the motion:

Conference further acknowledges that young people in rural areas face specific barriers to accessing learning and training and beginning employment including overcoming the lack of access to public services such as public transport, public libraries and youth services which are being cut by Councils in many rural areas.

Here is a transcript of her speech:

Sarah Yong speaking at Spring Conference 2012"Good morning Conference.

I am speaking for the motion with the inclusion of the amendment and I thank the Federal Conference Committee for accepting my important lines into this motion.

I absolutely agree with the key priorities of this paper: The Youth contract is successful, we should extend it and we should have more effective supported funding for apprenticeships. It is so crucial, as the Paper outlines, that we make other routes of training as important as universities and it is right that young people pursuing vocational routes should have access to the type of loans afforded to university students.

I also particularly welcome the focus in the paper on ensuring our schools are giving the best unbiased and fair careers advice to young people that focuses on their needs, not just school league tables- and for young people to have this career support in earlier years. These are very much 'Liberal Democrat' policies that we should be proud of and champion.

I am also glad to see that lines 6-8 in the motion specifically acknowledge that youth unemployment disproportionally impacts on people from poorer and BAME communities, those with disabilities, young offenders and those leaving care.

I am also proud that this motion now contains the word 'rural' because living in a rural area also poses specific barriers for our young people seeking employment. The paper does acknowledge that people living in remote areas face barriers because it costs money to move to a city where an apprenticeship may be available.

But Conference, as a Liberal Democrat living in rural Somerset, I am saying to you that we need to look further and deeper to help our young people, because Conference I ask you this:

How does that young person living in Somerset get to their interview for the apprenticeship in the first place? In fact how do they get to training or even the job centre to find out what jobs might be available when there are no buses? If a family is lucky to have a car how are they supposed to pay for fuel if they are struggling?

Services rurally have been severely cut in many areas of the country, mainly by Conservative Councils; such is the situation in Somerset. How are young people supposed to access advice and go online when libraries and youth services are being cut?

Conference, the reality on the ground is letters in our local papers, conversations on the doorstep and councillor and MP's surgeries ARE telling us that young people in rural areas feel they CAN'T get anywhere, they CAN'T attend an interview, they CAN'T get to the job centre. Young people I talk to in Somerset increasingly feel they have been forgotten. These are the issues people are telling me about and the biggest practical barriers they feel THEY face as young people.

Conference we have to be the Party both of Rural Britain and Urban Britain. Some of our strongest constituencies and councils ARE rural and we need to show people there's a reason to stick with US, that WE deliver the fairest deal.

So in summary please support this motion as amended to give our young people a fair chance.

Thank you for listening."