In the last few days, we have had the very welcome news that unemployment in West Dorset has dropped below 1%.

I can’t remember the last time this happened – but it was certainly a very long time ago, and it is wonderful that we are now, locally, getting to within a whisker of full employment. I hope that, now the economic recovery has properly set in, we will see more and more of the country following West Dorset’s lead and moving towards full employment.

To judge by what I heard when I visited Kingston Maurward recently to speak to a large gathering of chartered accountants from the south west, I think there are grounds for optimism that across our region, at least, confidence is increasing. In my experience, accountants are normally a fairly restrained group of people – but they have their fingers on the pulses of an awful lot of businesses, so when they become more confident I think one really can take that as a sign of increasing security and a brighter future for families up and down the south west. But of course we still need to do much more to stimulate the growth of jobs that are well-paid and rewarding in more ways than just financially. It is very reassuring that the great bulk of the jobs created in the last few years have been full-time rather than part-time; but we also need to ensure that the full-time jobs are really good jobs which will encourage people to remain in the area.

So I was delighted to see the very plan put forward by the Local Enterprise Partnership for improving the infrastructure of Dorset and for attracting more highly skilled jobs by improving our vocational training.