We need mental health and employment support available for everyone who needs it, whether to help them stay in work or get back into the labour market. And we need to become a nation of mental health friendly employers, where staff are able to talk about mental health difficulties in the knowledge that they will not be discriminated against or passed over because of it.
People looking for their first job have long had a raw deal in the labour market. The effects of the financial crisis in 2008 meant employers disproportionately scaled back recruitment of entry level jobs and the most recent ONS statistics concerning those Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) say there are still 954,000 young (16 -24) NEETs.
As employers, we know how tough it is out there, but that doesn't stop us wanting the very best people for the job, particularly as these new recruits could one day become the leaders of our businesses. We want to see evidence that these young people have got what it takes to negotiate the complexities of today's workplace.
Already there are thousands of unpaid interns struggling to make ends meet, and even more who are turned away from professions not because of their skills, but because of their economic background. If we want our workforce to be a reflection of society instead of inequality then we need to widen access to internships, improve their quality, and make sure they are paid.
The shopping is done, the presents are wrapped and plans have been made. Yes, Christmas is just around the corner. And before we know it, we'll be toasting in the New Year. People say things tend to quieten down for businesses around this time of year, but this certainly hasn't been the case in the skills and employment arena. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Yesterday, I walked into the shopping centre of my local town, and I came across an artist at work. His poetry, written in chalk, spanned the pavement and I, like many others, paused to read. His work seemed to be aimed at generating thought and reflection, and if this was the case, it was certainly working.
I have been unemployed for the best part of the last three years. Despite a couple of creative successes it wasn't viable to lead an existence on the back of these, so I had to look for a real job. I did try to achieve this, but I wasn't getting any results so I was told that perhaps I wasn't trying hard enough.