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Friends of the Earth - Quarter of million green apprenticeships needed to fix youth unemployment crisis

Research by Friends of the Earth has revealed that creating 250,000 green apprenticeships leading to jobs including in renewable energy, woodland creation, and peatland restoration, would help address the crises in youth unemployment (that could cost today’s unemployed young people £39bn in future earnings), and climate breakdown.

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Offshore Wind Farm.jpg
Offshore Wind Farm.jpg

The report “An emergency plan on green jobs for young people – why and how?” (by Transition Economics for Friends of the Earth) lays bare the scarring economic impact of youth unemployment from Covid-19 on individuals, local authorities, and the overall country. But the research also shows the huge potential for fighting the climate crisis with green jobs country-wide if apprenticeships are given proper government support.

The report, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, shows that:

  • The collective scarring impact of youth unemployment during the pandemic could see up to £39 in billion lost wages in the UK over the following 20 years, if all young people currently unemployed remain jobless for a year.
  • The Combined Authority and Metro Mayor areas with the greatest opportunities for green apprenticeship creation over 3 years are:
    London – 44,220
    West Midlands – 19,430
    Greater Manchester – 14,140
    West Yorkshire – 11,750
    Sheffield City Region – 6,400
  • The local authorities with the greatest potential for green apprenticeship creation over 3 years are:
    Birmingham – 9,080
    Leeds – 4,030
    Bradford – 3,420
    Manchester – 3,420
    Liverpool – 2,780

Recommendations to deliver these green apprenticeships include up to £10.6 billion of government funding towards wage subsidies, training, and diversity measures, as well as creating a network of National and Regional Centres of Excellence for Zero Carbon Skills at further education colleges. The report also proposes bursaries of £1,500 to promote participation in green apprenticeships among disadvantaged groups including Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, women, and disabled people.

Denis Fernando, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said:

“There’s a serious risk that this country is going to leave its young people to a future devastated by the climate crisis and unemployment. But it’s not too late to turn this around. Investing in green apprenticeships in areas such as renewable energy and woodland creation could prevent a new wave of youth unemployment, while helping the UK towards a more climate-friendly future.”

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:

“This research is a stark reminder that the steps we take now to tackle climate change can also introduce opportunities for young people. Players of People’s Postcode Lottery have supported this research as part of our Postcode Climate Challenge initiative, which is supporting 12 charities with an additional £24 million for projects tackling climate change this year. Ending youth unemployment while fighting climate change offers a worthwhile solution to tackling two of the key issues we face.”

Paul Nowak, deputy general secretary at TUC, said:

"Young people have borne the brunt of the job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and we need an urgent plan to make sure this experience doesn’t scar their future. We know that investment in the skills required to get Britain to net zero, and in the good green jobs that will deliver it, could provide the opportunities young people desperately need now. This report is an important contribution to making that happen - and we look forward to working with everyone committed to ensuring that we deliver a better future both for young people and for the planet."

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