I was delighted to co-host the 2021 Watford Jobs Fair, which was held at the Job Centre in Exchange House. Whilst held on a smaller scale than previous years due to restrictions, it was fantastic to see so many businesses exhibit and so many attendees turn up. We had employers from the aviation and transport sector, retail, hospitality and construction, to name just a few.

The Jobs Fair offered those in receipt of Universal Credit a ‘one stop’ shop for not just excellent employment opportunities, but also advice on how to improve interview skills, or how to make their CV stand out. I was also delighted to see a number of employers recruiting to the fantastic Kickstart scheme, which has helped thousands of 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit get a foot on the career ladder.

During the pandemic, the forecast for our national economy and job market were bleak. There were fears of mass unemployment following the end of the safety net that was the furlough scheme. The actual position is a growth in jobs, training opportunities and a buoyant market.

Read more: 'We are bouncing back from pandemic' - Unemployment drops in Watford

Our national economy has emerged from the pandemic far stronger than many were predicting. Concerns around inflation remain, as is the case globally, but the current employment market shows that the Government’s furlough scheme helped to protect the livelihoods of more than 11 million individuals.

Locally we have seen new restaurants and shops opening, as well as a number of exciting leisure facilities such as Puttshack and Ninja Warrior, which is a very encouraging sign given the earlier economic predictions. I am pleased that Watford continues to thrive with new businesses eager to set up shop here.

  • Dean Russell is Conservative MP for Watford