The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on our economy, and few of us will be left untouched by its impact. However, some groups and sectors have been hit harder than others. We know that those under the age of 25 have been amongst the hardest hit. We also know from previous bitter experience that when young people enter working life during a recession, they will feel its effect for some years to come. Not just in terms of wages, but also their general health and wellbeing.
It’s clear that as we plan our post-Covid recovery, we must ensure there are specific opportunities available for young people both in terms of jobs and in acquiring the skills they will need to gain employment. Many of them have missed at least six months of school this year, and here in Bristol South, even before Covid-19 hit, we had shockingly low rates of 18 year olds going onto university – just 16 percent compared to 90 per cent elsewhere in the city.
In November, the Labour Party published our plan to support 400,000 new jobs with a green economic recovery. We’re calling for a recovery that will deliver high-skilled jobs in Bristol South and in every part of the UK as part of the drive towards a clean economy. And we’re calling for the low-carbon infrastructure of the future to be built in Britain. Our plans will tackle the twin emergencies we face: the jobs emergency caused by Covid-19 and the climate emergency which threatens the future of our planet.
This is a bold and ambitious plan which will invest in jobs and workers, with capital investment to deliver jobs and an emergency training programme to equip people affected by the unemployment crisis with the skills they need for the future. Of course, as many of you will know, higher education, apprenticeships and ensuring young people have the support they need to access them have been priorities for me since I was first elected. And because of the groundwork we have laid in Bristol South in previous years, we are perfectly placed to deliver this training, helping young people through the crisis and retraining older people who have lost their jobs as the result of the pandemic. With City of Bristol College, and the new Advanced Skills Construction Centre currently being built at Hengrove, Bristol South can be at the forefront of the post-Covid recovery – and I’ll keep working to make sure that’s the case.
We know the effects of the pandemic will be felt for many months to come. But as we try to ‘build back better’, we have a unique opportunity to look to the future and ensure that we pioneer green industry and ensure a better quality of life here in Bristol South. I want to work with constituents to make this a reality – so please do get in touch if you have any ideas or experiences to share.