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What Are the Conservatives Doing for Young People?

07/08/2015 15:16 BST | Updated 06/08/2016 10:59 BST

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To mark 100 days of the first Conservative government in nearly 20 years, HuffPost UK is running 100 Days of Dave, a special series of blog posts from grassroots campaigners to government ministers, single parents to first-year students, reflecting on what's worked and what hasn't, whilst looking for solutions to the problems we still face.

I am a 22-year-old lass from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire.

I am a young person.

As a young person, I want to be part of a movement that has a plan for the long term.

A movement that is not only benefiting people now, but is also looking to leave something for the future.

A movement that is not only creating a sustainable economy, but is also giving opportunities for our generation now.

That movement is the Conservative Party.

We are only 100 days into this government and the Conservatives are already proving their commitment to creating valuable opportunities for young people to take hold of with both hands.

One of the most important things my parents taught me growing up was to always work hard. It is not right that, in an economy moving towards full employment, some young people leave school and go straight on to a life on benefits. Young people must earn or learn.

The Conservative Party is not just talking the talk. It is already putting in place important measures to make sure young people are given the opportunities so that they can earn or learn.

How?

By increasing apprenticeships, by increasing employment, by making university accessible for anyone who wants to go and by helping young people gain work experience.

National unemployment continues to fall. Two million more people are in work since 2010, meaning Britain is creating 1,000 jobs every day. Three-quarters of these new jobs created since 2010 are full-time jobs.

This fall in unemployment is benefiting young people. Youth unemployment has fallen since 2010 and the Conservatives are working to make sure it continues to do so. The Conservative Party is determined to abolish long-term youth unemployment.

The new Youth Obligation will help young people prepare for work through schemes including work experience opportunities. The £1billion Youth Contract is already providing new opportunities for 18-24 year olds, including apprenticeships and work placements.

For me, supporting apprenticeships is not only absolutely the correct thing to do, but it is personal. I am a former apprentice. My apprenticeship was a huge opportunity and I would not be where I am today without it.

I am proud be part of a party that oversaw the creation of 2.2million Apprenticeships over the course of the last parliament. We will not stop. We will fight even harder to make this figure even bigger. The prime minister has set the ambition of 3million apprenticeships by 2020. Each one another fantastic opportunity for another young person.

The chancellor made it clear how committed the Conservatives are to this ambition when he announced plans, in the recent Summer Budget, to introduce an apprenticeship levy on all large firms. Firms that are committed to training will be able to get back more than they put in. Apprentices under 25 will also incur no National Insurance for their employer.

Like many young people, my first job was stacking shelves in a supermarket and I have also worked on minimum wage. The Conservative Party has raised the minimum wage and we will do so again and again. From April 2016, a new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour for the over 25s will be introduced. This will rise to over £9 an hour by 2020. The tax-free Personal Allowance, the amount people earn before they have to start paying Income Tax, will increase to £11,000 in 2016-17. More of your hard-earned money will be just that, your hard-earned money.

University was not for me, but that does not mean it is not for everyone. The Conservatives are working to make sure that University is accessible to anyone who does want to go. From this year the government will remove the cap on student numbers, enabling thousands more students to benefit from a higher education. The Conservatives are also introducing new loans for postgraduate study. We want to make sure those who want to further their knowledge, can.

The government is increasing the overall maintenance support available to low income students by £766 to £8,200 a year for those living away from home and studying outside London. This means all new students will have access to more cash-in-hand than before to help meet living costs.

It is important to remember that higher education must remain financially sustainable. Graduates generally earn more than people without a degree so it is right they contribute to the costs of studying when they are earning as graduates. All graduates, no matter what their background, will only start repaying their loans when they earn over £21,000. Repayments will stop again if earnings fall below this amount.

People said that when tuition fees were increased, fewer people would apply to University. This was proved wrong. University application rates are up and more students from disadvantaged backgrounds are going to university than ever before. Our reforms are working as students understand they do not have to pay up front to go to university. You pay for what you get out of your degree and everyone is put on a level footing.

What I love about the Conservative Party, is that it is working to help young people recognise they have a choice. We have a vision that it becomes the new norm that when you leave school you have a choice either to go to university or to go into an apprenticeship. We want every young person leaving school to view an apprenticeship or going to university as equally great opportunities of equal value. Our job in government should not be to target one more than the other, but to encourage young people to realise that they can choose either option, knowing that both will help them head towards a bright future.

The Conservative Party is the party of opportunity, the party of aspiration, the party that says if you work hard, no matter what your age or background, we will reward you. This is why the Conservative Party is clearly the party for young people and why I, as a young person, support what they are doing.

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