Thousands of new ‘future-fit’ jobs could be created if the new Welsh Government embraces a radical vision for Wales, according to the Future Generations Commissioner.
Progressive ideas and amplifying under-heard voices will be vital to help people into the new secure and fulfilling work needed for the country to recover from Covid-19, said Sophie Howe, as she sets out her future-focused programme for the new government.
Of those newly unemployed in the UK in 2020-21, 63% are under 25 (1) and Wales TUC suggests almost 60,000 jobs could be created in the green recovery, by 2022, with the right investment.
Tackling youth unemployment should be done in a way that maximises benefits, acting on the impacts of Covid on mental health – such as loneliness, said the commissioner, whose role under Wales’ Well-being of Future Generations Act is to advocate for current generations and people not yet born.
Public Health Wales reported last year that only half of people rated their current happiness level as high.
In a new paper published today [Monday, March 24], A Fit for the Future Programme for Government, Ms Howe said Welsh Government needs to rethink the way the economy works and who benefits, by:
The commissioner said Welsh Government’s new ‘Climate Ministry’ across housing, transport, planning, environment and energy, along with a commitment to a Universal Basic Income pilot showed a commitment to new ideas to tackle inequalities.
Yet Analysis by the Future Generations Commissioner, New Economics Foundation (NEF) and Wales TUC highlights work to be done – identifying that the current skills pipeline in Wales is not prepared or diverse enough for the race to net zero.
In agriculture, forestry, nature restoration and related trades, about 25 per cent of the workforce is female and 0.76 per cent is of non-white ethnicity. In electric installation, including broadband, electric vehicles and solar panels, 29 per cent of the workforce is female and 6 per cent is of non-white ethnicity.
In addition, new research shows Wales now has the worst child poverty rate of all the UK nations, with one in five children living below the poverty line. (3)
Ms Howe is working with think tank Autonomy to explore how a basic income, where people are paid a set amount to meet their basic needs, regardless of if they’re in employment, would substantially reduce poverty.
The commissioner now wants Welsh Government to show how it will tackle cross-cutting issues like pollution and health, while maximising the well-being value of every policy and programme – calling for a ‘timeline, actions and investments for a Prosperous, Green and Equal Recovery’ as we rebuild our public services, communities and the economy.
Sophie Howe said: “Covid recovery needs bold, whole-government solutions to ensure access to decent, meaningful and fair work, especially for young people worried about their future.
“We have to make sure that everyone can take advantage of new green job opportunities, and that we have the right skills and training in place for that to happen. At the moment, the gaps on skills and lack of diversity is worrying and opportunities are being missed.
“My plan sets out the policy actions needed for more joined-up thinking, with the help of the people and skills we already have in our communities, from volunteers to businesses, artists and creatives.
“Done right, we can create opportunities for life, improving our health today and restoring our natural environment for communities and generations to come.”