Growing up in the Amman Valley in the 1980s, I was told in no uncertain terms “if you want to get on, you have to get out”. That is not the message I want to give to the next generation. If we are to build a vibrant, thriving communities we need our talented young people to understand the whole raft of options available to them, and to consider building their future within their local areas.
That’s why I’ve helped to setup an alumni scheme which will link school students with local role models. The idea is to inspire comprehensive school pupils by matching them with former pupils who have gone on to develop interesting, varied and successful careers; and to help them access advice and practical support.
The role models will help pupils to grasp the barriers they have experienced, and the contacts who can help them to reach their career goals within the local community.
I hope this scheme will help our young people to understand that forging a successful career and future is not always about leaving your area and heading to a city. It’ll begin with ten pilot schools across the South Wales valleys, then I want to see it rolled out to every comprehensive in Wales as soon as possible.
It’s an idea very close to my heart and the reason I came into politics; to help the communities I grew up in to have the same advantages the leafy suburbs of the South East of England take for granted.