A green jobs recovery is urgently needed

My day job is as a lecturer in further education. I am acutely aware of the importance of training our young people for the jobs and skills they will need in the future. That is why I have thrown my weight behind the new Green Jobs for All campaign.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:00 am
Hillsborough. Picture: Chris Etchells

In South Yorkshire, we want to create 25,000 new green jobs. These jobs are needed in response to the Covid economic downturn and the climate and ecological emergencies. We must invest in sustainable skills for the future. Studies suggest a need to create 6,500 apprenticeships/training opportunities - for instance in home insulation, renewable energy, public transport and nature restoration.

The Green Jobs for All campaign calls on the government to:

1. Invest directly in people and the planet.

2. Restore public services.

3.Invest in job creation and the training needed for a sustainable economy.

4. Establish the real living wage as the new going rate.

The campaign is supported by climate campaigners such as the Youth Strike for Climate group, trade unionists, politicians, local food growers, healthcare workers and public transport workers.

To reach zero carbon by 2030 we need massive investment in our homes and workplaces so they are properly insulated and heated by renewables, such as heat pumps. We need to train the people that will carry out that work, as there is currently a massive skills gap.

We also need massive investment in the care sector. The covid-19 crisis has exposed the parlous state of social care in the UK. Low wages and insecure pay for staff are common, whilst years of underfunding have left the provision massively overstretched. Investment in this sector produces far more jobs than in other sectors. For instance, 2.7 jobs in care work could be created by the money to create one job in construction.

The report calculates that the UK can expect approximately two million job losses by 2030 due to Covid. Our region already has high levels of unemployment and this varies tremendously by constituency. In January the highest levels were found in Brightside and Hillsborough and Rotherham (both at 9.7%) whereas Hallam is well below the national average (6.2%) with 2.5%. Job losses at John Lewis, Debenhams and many other workplaces will push these figures up. With the necessary investment approximately 2m jobs could be created in the care sector and 600,000 in green jobs.

There is broad support in the UK for the Green New Deal. Here are some local voices calling for the Government to act.

Sheffield TUC said: "Investment in a green recovery is urgently needed in order to build a new fairer and cleaner future after the economic collapse caused by the Government’s mishandling of the COVID crisis.

"Workers and their families have seen their real incomes fall and good jobs disappear over 10 or more years of austerity, a situation made even worse by COVID’s impact on an already ailing and unfair economy. A massive public investment programme is needed now to combat climate change, stimulate truly sustainable growth and create desperately needed good, unionised jobs.”

Matt Duffy said: “I work for the Don Catchment Rivers Trust. We build natural flood defences. It’s something which is good for nature, which I love.”

Anne, a healthcare worker from Rotherham, added: “Just over three years ago, I made the decision to change career paths, moving from a job in a creative company to a career in healthcare within a GP practice. I took a large pay cut but I knew this was a career I wanted, where I could make a difference and feel fulfilled.”

Green New Deal UK South Yorkshire will be holding an in-person action on Saturday April 24 from 11am-1pm outside Sheffield Town Hall to highlight the importance of the Green Jobs For All campaign.

The Government must act on the Green Jobs for All report and I look forward to seeing expanding provision in further education to meet these skills gaps.