The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith praised the North West, which he said was enjoying a ‘renaissance’ during part of a tour of the region.
Mr Duncan Smith visited Ascentis, on Lancaster Business Park, with Eric Ollerenshaw, parliamentary candidate for Lancaster and Fleetwood for the Conservative Party, as part of three visits to the area on Wednesday.
Mr Duncan Smith said: “I am optimistic about Britain. We are seeing a new renaissance in the North West.
“Cumbria is sitting on the beginning of this renaissance.
“There are now labour shortages, a nuclear industry, and businesses are setting up.
“The big issue is transport links and investment in the roads and railways.
“The Conservatives have invested £35bn in the railways and more road programmes are really important.
“There are three million more apprenticeships for young people which will create a greater level of skills.
“I’m a real optimist. The proportion of families living in social housing who are in work is the highest its ever been. This is a jobs miracle.
“I think we are ahead of the rest of the world in welfare reform.
“The issue of work experience is really important as it gets the person into training and then into a job.
“Unemployment is falling and more people are in work. The key is more skills generally.
“We are looking for a skilled workforce. We need to get into schools to retrain young people, this is the area to do more on.
“There are also the 50 plus age people who have fallen out of work and need to think about reskilling.
“A different particular set of training is needed for that group of people, who can become quite vulnerable.
“They may need to retrain in retail or clerical work.
“First and foremost we want to invest more and more.”
Chief executive of Ascentis, Phil Wilkinson said: “The business, set up in 1975, has a turnover of £3m and creates educational qualifications for colleges, training providers, schools and employers.
“We work with hundreds of schools and organisations in the UK and overseas to deliver the courses and we also quality assure the courses.”