Damian Hinds: Backroom staff taking centre stage at Festival

Staff are key to Festival success. Picture; stock image
Staff are key to Festival success. Picture; stock image
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It’s rare to hear a round of applause for the backroom staff at the Playhouse or the Assembly Rooms.

But at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, let’s give a big cheer for the cleaners, the ticket sellers and bar staff who make the Festival such as a success.

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As nearly 500,000 people descend on Edinburgh to enjoy the street performers, comedy and live shows, I want to celebrate the people behind the scenes who make it all possible.

Edinburgh’s festivals helped support nearly 6000 full-time jobs in the city last year, across a wide range of sectors including hospitality, tourism and, of course, the arts.

These workers are the unsung heroes of the events, because without them the show just couldn’t go on.

Over the past few months, Jobcentre Plus work coaches in Edinburgh city centre have helped people find work at the Fringe, as well as running the “Staged for Life” programme, which saw young people learn about sound and lighting.

After completing the training, participants were given work placements at venues across Edinburgh and a guaranteed interview with an employer.

It forms just a small part of the UK Government’s ongoing commitment to creating prosperity and opportunity in Scotland.

The Fringe’s growing success is part of a broader economic story for Scotland. Recent figures show that there are a near record 2.6 million people in work in Scotland, and private sector employment is up by 194,000 since 2010. It’s a result of our efforts to create a society across the UK that works for everyone.

Many of the people employed at the Fringe will be young people on summer placements, and the event gives them the chance to get valuable experience to top-up their CVs.

While they might not appear on stage, temporary jobs give people the chance to be in the spotlight to potential new employers, develop their skills and expand their horizons.

Pulling pints at a pub, for example could spark an interest in hospitality — an industry where the number of people in employment has increased by 46,000 over the last year alone.

And with Universal Credit, people can take on short-term contracts and work as many hours as they like, building experience for a full-time position without interrupting their claim and finances.

There’s a near record three-quarters of a million vacancies in the UK economy right now and as we look to the future, one of the top priorities for this government will be making sure everyone in the UK continues to benefit from our economic policies.

So as the Fringe goes from strength to strength, let’s applaud those employees toiling away behind the scenes as they forge their futures — and boost the country’s fortunes too.

Conservative MP Damian Hinds is the recently appointed Employment Minister at Westminster