One of the more enjoyable parts of an MP’s job is helping celebrate the opening of a new project. So last Friday was a particularly enjoyable time as I managed two in one day.
The first was the new building near Hothfield where MJ Allen, a well-established Ashford manufacturing company, have completed their latest expansion. Several generations of Allens were there, emphasising how family businesses can be the backbone of our economy.
To be able to enjoy the success of a company that was started in Ashford more than 60 years ago is particularly sweet. MJ Allen now have three sites around the town, showing admirable ambition for the future.
Then it was on to East Kent College’s Employability Centre, which is designed to give adult workers the skills they need to take up the jobs on offer. This project is being done in conjunction with the Department for Work and Pensions, and with the support of Ashford Borough Council, showing yet again how working together in partnership can get the best results.
As we arrived for the ceremony an IT class for adult workers was ending. Learning basic computer skills is these days as necessary for most work as being able to read and write, so it was good to see this essential training going on.
Passing on skills which make people employable is more important than ever. The consistent message I receive from local businesses is that they are finding it difficult to find new workers, so the jobs are certainly there to be had if people want them.
Combined with the great news of the Government funding for the Newtown Works film studios, which includes another venture for Ashford College teaching the relevant skills for the media industry, this shows the way for a prosperous future for the town.