Labour candidate hits out at Tees Valley mayor after tweet about jobs for ‘local lads’

(As first printed in Northern Echo)

THE Labour candidate for Tees Valley Mayor, Jessie Joe Jacobs, has hit out at Mayor Ben Houchen’s comments on social media regarding jobs for ‘local lads’.

In a Tweet Mr Houchen posted to his account yesterday, he said: “Our Teesworks site will create years of work for local lads from Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”

Ms Jacobs said: “When it comes to the Mayor, it looks like it’s jobs for the lads, contracts for the lads and an economy for the lads.

“If you follow Houchens news feed, it seems if there isn’t a hard hat then it isn’t a real job and they’re not for women. The Mayor’s language today has undone so much hard work to empower women in the region. We already fall dramatically below the national average for women in STEM careers for instance. Research by the University of Manchester found that we stand at 12% when the average is 27%.

“The Mayor needs to move into the 21st century. This is an age old problem for the Tees Valley and as the UK’s first female metro mayor this will be at the top of my agenda. The Tees Valley will only thrive when we all thrive, men and women and that means being proactive, it won’t just come through a few token gestures.

“This isn’t just about equality. A study by the Boston Consulting Group in 2018 showed that companies with a gender diverse workforce produced on average 19% more revenue. Diversity is not just a metric to be strived for it produces real improvements to the bottom line.

“For too long, this region has been held back by a male driven economic strategy, my first encounter with Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, years ago brought this home, and little has changed.

“As the UK’s first female metro mayor, we will do things differently. Our strategy will create opportunities for all and address the inequalities that exist.”

Ms Jacobs has outlined her plans:

  • Target a 50:50 split on all boards, diversify the sectors represented within the TVCA, encouraging leaders from care, beauty, tourism, food and drink and retail to shape our economic strategies.
  • Driving forward family friendly workplaces and working to improve childcare provision.
  • Set up an Equalities Task Force and Equalities Commissioner.
  • Explore ideas such as a Womens Entrepreneurs Fund and Women into STEM academy – we need to get past the ideas that science techonolgy, engineering and manufacturing jobs are for men.
  • Campaign to drive up wages in female dominated industries.