Government urged to spend £10bn on 250,000 green apprenticeships

The UK government has been urged to spend £10bn on delivering 250,000 green apprenticeships ahead of the spring Budget tomorrow.

The environmental charity Friends of the Earth said the positions could lead to jobs including those in renewable energy, woodland creation, and peatland restoration and would help address the youth unemployment crisis, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its latest report, which is supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery, finds that if the government were to adopt the proposals, up to £39bn in lost wages could be recovered in the UK over the following 20 years.

The areas most suitable for green apprenticeships are London, where around 44,220 new positions could be created, the West Midlands, with 19,430 positions, and Greater Manchester with 14,140 positions.

Recommendations to deliver these green apprenticeships include up to £10.6bn of government funding towards wage subsidies, training, and diversity measures, as well as creating a network of “Zero Carbon Skills” centres 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 £24m 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.”

According to the report, an 18-20-year-old who experiences one year of unemployment could lose up to £133,000 in wages over the next 20 years, as a result of lower future pay.

With population taken into account, the West Midlands is estimated to be the worst hit area for youth unemployment from the Covid-19 pandemic with £2.6bn in wages lost. This is followed by Greater Manchester (£1.8bn) and London (£7.2bn).

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