1 in 10 jobs at risk without 'green' reskilling, Mayors warn Treasury

Up to 2.2 million Brits could face unemployment unless the UK's Covid-19 recovery package contains measures to reskill them for "green-collar" roles, Mayors and council leaders representing 25 million residents have warned.

The need for additional training is most pronounced in the transport, mining and built environment sectors

The need for additional training is most pronounced in the transport, mining and built environment sectors

The cohort of leaders, coordinated by UK 100, have thrown their support behind a new briefing published by the non-profit network in collaboration with the Grantham Researc2h Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. The briefing was published online and sent to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Monday (29 June), one day before Boris Johnson’s speech in which he will outline the fundamentals of the UK’s recovery package.

According to the briefing, one in every five jobs in England will be impacted by the UK’s transition to a net-zero economy – the equivalent of more than 7,500 roles in each parliamentary constituency. Some 1.8 million people will experience increased interest from employers based on their existing skills, but almost 2.2 million more will experience decreased interest and face job losses without reskilling, it concludes. The need for additional training is most pronounced in the transport, mining and built environment sectors.

The majority of these 2.2 million people are based in the manufacturing heartlands – but these areas were also over-represented in the 1.8 million cohort, too. As such, the UK100 is warning that there is an opportunity as well as a challenge, particularly given that these regions have higher levels of deprivation and lower salaries than the national average.

Areas with large Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are also disproportionately affected by the economic challenges associated with both the net-zero transition and the Covid-19 crisis, the briefing warns. The areas with the largest proportion of net jobs that require reskilling have an average of 28% BAME residents, compared to the national average of 13%.

In its 2019 general election manifesto, the Conservative Party vowed to “level up” regions across the UK, ensuring that the upfront costs and long-term benefits of key policy decisions are felt proportionately in terms of both geographical locations and social groups.

As such, UK 100 is calling on the Treasury to create reskilling programmes aimed at funnelling workers into the renewable energy, electric vehicles (EVs), building retrofit, financial services and environmental conservation sectors. Sunak is reportedly set to launch a dedicated fund for reskilling Brits to work in the renewable energy, cleantech and built environment sectors, coupled with additional investment in these sectors to assist with their expansion.

“This research shows that it is not enough to just simply unlock the economy; we need a proactive, values-led approach to drive a sustainable and inclusive recovery,” Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said.

“By front-loading the investment in the green infrastructure cities and towns across the country already have lined up, we can secure billions of pounds of investment in quality jobs and invaluable confidence to local partners and their supply chains. This will help us deliver the vital green infrastructure we need to meet carbon neutrality targets and rebuild the economy in a way that avoids future climate shocks.”

24 UK 100 members have also joined forces to create a Resilient Recovery Taskforce – a coalition which will continue to urge the Treasury to implement a ‘New Deal for Green Skills and Growth’. Members of the Taskforce have also vowed to support reskilling and green growth in their own Covid-19 recovery package, regardless of central Government provisions.

Sitting on the Taskforce are leaders from Bath and North East Somerset, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Camden, Cornwall, Kent, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool City Region, London, Greater Manchester, Manchester City, Newcastle, North of the Tyne, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield, Sheffield City Region, Southampton, the West Midlands and the West of England. Many of these regions have already declared climate emergencies and set net-zero targets ahead of the national 2050 deadline.

Circularity after Covid-19

Also releasing research on the employment risks and opportunities borne by the coronavirus pandemic today is WRAP, the non-profit focussed on resource efficiency and the circular economy.

WRAP claims that 500,000 jobs could be either protected or created through to 2030 if the recovery package offers ambitious provisions to embed circular economy principles in the manufacturing, waste management and finance sectors.

In order to bring about this benefit, the Government must introduce a ‘target, measure, act’ approach to circular economy metrics and mandate local authorities and businesses with large environmental footprints to do the same.

Targeted financial incentives should also be launched, prioritising sectors and regions with structural problems, alongside a communications and engagement campaign aimed at the general public.

WRAP is also urging BEIS and Defra to publish progress reports on the implementation of the Resources and Waste, Industrial and Clean Growth Strategies before the end of 2020. Concerns that the key provisions of these policy frameworks will face delayed implementation post-pandemic have repeatedly been raised.

“We urge policymakers here and internationally to recognise [the adoption of a circular economy] as potential as a catalyst for job creation and growth, and we call on them to take immediate steps to lock in circularity to their post-COVID recovery plans,” WRAP chief executive Marcus Gover said.

The circular economy transition is additionally regarded as a requisite for the net-zero transition. Research from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation concluded that 45% of global emissions can be linked to the linear models in which we take, make, use and dispose of resources and products.

Sarah George



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