Terry Hunt: Suffolk and proud

PUBLISHED: 03:53 21 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:31 20 February 2013

Terry Hunt: Suffolk and proud

Terry Hunt: Suffolk and proud

Terry Hunt, editor of the East Anglian Daily Times wonders what will power our future

The power to build a better future

Here in Suffolk, we have a huge opportunity staring us in the face. It can secure employment for thousands of our young people, and it can have a major influence on the economic well-being of the county for years, if not decades, to come. We must make sure we grab it, and make the most of it.

What Im talking about are the job opportunities which will be created by the energy industry, both nuclear and wind power. The EADT has reported that Sizewell C will create no fewer than 25,000 jobs. Meanwhile, the huge wind farms which will be built off the Suffolk coast will also produce thousands of jobs. One job per turbine is the rule of thumb, Im reliably informed. And thats a lot.

Yes, I know there are those who decry nuclear power, and they are perfectly entitled to their opinion. The way I see it, however, is that Sizewell C is necessary. I would rather it wasnt necessary, but it is. Because without it, we will be turning the lights off in a few years time and we wouldnt be happy about that, would we?

So, we need to make sure we squeeze out every single benefit we can. Yes, hopefully that will mean a by-pass for the traffic-clogged four villages on the A12 immediately north of Wickham Market. It should mean some other significant community benefits too.

But, thinking much more widely, it will create tens of thousands of jobs. We must make sure that as many of those as humanly possible go to local people. I have absolutely nothing against folk from Newcastle or Liverpool, but I dont especially want to hear lots of Geordie or Scouse accents around the Leiston area in the years to come. That would mean we had missed our chance.

Without nuclear power, we will be turning the lights off in a few years time

So, we have a huge opportunity. How do we take it? I hate to resort to "management-speak, but Im afraid Im going to. What we must have is that thing called "joined-up thinking. And do you know where it starts? In the classrooms of our primary schools. Were talking about skills which will be needed in ten or 20 years time. So, the people who can take advantage of the opportunity are probably still at school.

We have lots of excellent teachers whose job it is to deliver the curriculum. All well and good. But these self-same teachers must also be aware of how important it is to provide their pupils with the ground level version of the skills they will need for the future.

A fantastic example of this is the Maths Challenge which is currently underway in 100 of our primary schools, organised by the EADT and Suffolk County Council. Attainment in Maths is the first stepping stone towards jobs in engineering, for example. Maths ability at age 11 is directly linked to employability a few years later. So it starts in the primary schools, and goes all the way through our education system, to A-Levels and beyond.

Everyone involved in education in Suffolk, at whatever stage of a young persons development, must have this at the forefront of their thinking. I can assure you that the EADT will bang the drum, long and loud. I can think of few, if any, more important subjects for the long-term good health of our county. There are already some promising signs 250 movers and shakers will attend a conference this month entitled "Raising the Bar, which will discuss this very topic.

Good start, but lots more to do. Our politicians must cast aside the temptation of short-term thinking (county council elections next year), look beyond the horizon, and think 20 or even 30 years hence.

I promise you that the EADT will support this initiative wholeheartedly, and will not shrink from embarrassing those in power if we feel they are not moving heaven and earth to make this happen.

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