Employers’ leader John Cridland's analysis of North East problems is spot-on.
In 1999 Mr Cridland, director general of the CBI, helped to introduce the minimum wage, an achievement he is rightly proud of.
But he finds it frustrating that many of the people who were on the minimum wage 15 years ago are still on it today.
What that means is that – for whatever reason – too few people are moving up the ladder. They are staying on the lowest rung.
The way off that lowest rung is more skills, more qualifications, more apprenticeships. Low paid workers need to raise their aspirations – and their employers need to help them to do it.
None of this is easy. But the rewards are there in the shape of a stream of better jobs that will command better wages. As a region, this is the ladder we must all climb.