Business leaders are calling on the government to create ‘green’ jobs in construction, renovation and transport, to help get the country back on its feet. The government has responded with £2 billion but will it be enough to help the jobless back to work?
In a letter to Boris Johnson, heads of UK companies including HSBC and Heathrow Airport, called for a recovery plan. They argued it should be one that “creates quality employment” and supports our climate goals. They demanded the government should prioritise sectors that can create jobs, boost the economy and help lower our carbon emissions. This would mean a new workforce for construction, renovation and energy efficiency, low-carbon electricity and electric vehicles.
The letter follows announcements from several political parties about their ideas for rebooting the economy post-coronavirus. Labour’s proposals focus on getting young people back into work, with tree-planting, building insulation and developing green technologies.
The government has now made its first response. Two billion pounds has been offered to homeowners to help them make their houses more energy efficient. This should reduce emissions and householders’ bills but also create work for tradespeople and people struggling to find work.
Lysnsey Sweeney, managing director of Communities that Work, says these kind of home improvements have been on the housing sector’s agenda long before Covid. Now, she says, it will be accelerated. Doing up homes will require a new workforce, but to get people into these jobs Lynsey says more needs to be done to tackle the ‘digital divide’: “People are excluded from the jobs market without the right WiFi and tech. We need a bigger commitment from the government and tech firms to provide cheap tablets and training for working age people.”
The Green party has set out similar plans for a future strategy. It features making all homes more energy efficient, restructuring our transport system and rolling out renewable energy across the country.
From Labour, Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, says schemes should involve retraining older people to “leave no worker behind”. He added that the plans could be adapted by region, for example in the South West of England where large numbers of people have lost jobs in tourism and hospitality and need retraining.
Emma Kernahan runs one of our Quids In Centres, in Gloucestershire. She offered these top tips for getting to the front of the jobs queue following the government announcement:
“One: Think trades! Jobseekers could focus on finding work with companies installing gas or supplying electrical engineering services. Other employers to look at are those fitting insulation in lofts and cavities. Double glazing firms too, as installing or removing windows is also covered by the government scheme.
“Two: Customer service. Do you enjoy working on the phone, feel you’re good with people, and have general office and IT skills? Consider customer support, sales and admin roles. Installers and suppliers will be seeing their businesses grow and will need extra support staff working in the office or from home.
“Three: Get onto those jobs boards. The government will list local suppliers under the scheme. Check those organisations first for vacancies, or approaching them to see if they provide training and entry level jobs. Go to recruitment sites too, like Indeed, Totaljobs and the DWP.
“Four: Get your game face on. Don’t feel like you have enough experience in the sector? Describe yourself with phrases like ‘fast learner’ and ‘pays attention to detail’. Highlight any skills from previous jobs that would transfer across and would benefit a new employer.
“Five: Get yourself the skills. Apprenticeships are a good way to earn while training, and there are a wide range available for gas and electrical engineering. Those who already have a technical background in insulation, electrical works and heating, could look at a qualification in HSE or Environmental Impact Assessment, (more here). Admin workers could consider project management as the next step, as companies manage new levels of recruitment and service delivery. There are plenty of courses and bosses might pay for them.”
Last month, Quids in! revealed the job opportunities in the food supply chain. Read more here on ways to find work during lockdown. There could be money to be made everywhere from crop-picking and warehouse work to food stores and deliveries.