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Friends of the Earth: An emergency plan on green jobs for young people

There are over 500,000 young people aged 16-24 out of work, and numbers are expected to grow substantially with the end of the furlough scheme. This is a youth unemployment emergency.
Friends of the Earth commissioned Transition Economics to identify how to create green jobs quickly, with a focus on green apprenticeships, and to identify the scale of funding needed.

The report – An emergency plan on green jobs for young people – finds:

  • The economic scarring impact of one year’s unemployment for an 18-20 year old comprises lost earnings of £42,000 – £133,000 over the next twenty years.
  • Current levels of youth unemployment could lead to £32 – £39 billion in wage scarring across the UK, if all currently unemployed 16-24 year olds stayed unemployed for 1 year. For an average-sized local authority area in England and Wales this represents £86 – £105 million in lost local earnings.
  • There are 161 existing apprenticeships standards in England that can support decarbonisation, out of a total of 571 approved for delivery. However, new standards need to be developed (e.g. whole-house retrofits), whilst others need important updates and/or numbers to be expanded significantly (e.g. heat pump installers).
  • The government could create 250,000 green apprenticeships across England and Wales for £6.2 – £10.6 billion in total funding over 5 years. This covers wages subsidies at 50% or full cost, training costs and diversity bursaries.
  • Funding the green infrastructure needed to meet climate goals – such as retrofitting existing homes and building new green homes, upgrading the railways, and afforestation – could create over 1 million jobs over the next two years, and provide the basis for recruiting and training green apprentices.

The report makes the case for a ‘green opportunity guarantee’ that commits to ensuring all young people are offered a job, an apprenticeship, or training. This includes

  • A government funded £40 billion a year green infrastructure programme would create over 1 million jobs.
  • Up to £10 billion over the next 5 years to create 250,000 green apprenticeships in England & Wales, with wage subsidies of 50-100% depending on need. Devolved nations should receive equivalent funding for programmes within their borders.
  • Strategic funding alongside a 10-year funding settlement for Further Education, to enable colleges to update curricula and massively expand the provision of green courses, traineeships, and apprenticeships.

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