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Jobs and training must be a top priority for economic recover in Wales

Photo credit: Matthew Horwood

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General and Ian Price, the CBI’s Wales Director, have today written to First Minister Mark Drakeford. They urge him to put jobs and training, especially for young people, at the heart of economic recovery plans.

Businesses recognise the need to prioritise health and adapt to new ways of working following the Covid-19 crisis. But that must not delay urgently implementing an ambitious recovery plan that responds to the scale of the economic challenge Wales faces.

As people begin returning to work safely, two priorities stand out: jobs and investment. Unemployment is the biggest threat to livelihoods and must not be allowed to scar communities across the country. We know unemployment falls unevenly, so future policy must be geared towards reversing rather than entrenching inequality. Meanwhile, business investment must bounce back fast to create the jobs of the future and address Wales’s poor productivity performance.

CBI Wales has laid out an ambitious, health-first, recovery plan that would help secure a jobs-rich, fair and sustainable future for the economy:

1. Make job creation, skills training and opportunities, especially for young people, the top priority.

Specific proposals include: In order to deliver on the Economy Minister’s pledge that everyone over the age of 16 will be offered   support and advice to find work, the government will need to expand existing upskilling and retraining initiatives such as Working Wales, ReAct and scaling up PACE to increase the speed at which people can move between roles and sectors to match demand.

2. Invest in the green economy to create new jobs, investment and a more sustainable future.

Support the Future Generation Commission’s call for specific proposals to grow our green economy: retrofitting all homes with a high standard of energy efficiency; expanding and quickening the deployment of electric vehicle charging networks, help Welsh firms build resilient supply chains and incentivise remote working for those employees that wish to do so.

3. Kick-start demand and boost competitiveness.

Specific proposals include: introducing a time-limited scrappage scheme to incentivise the take-up of electric vehicles, extending business rates relief to mid-sized businesses in all sectors to help them press ahead with paused innovation projects and accelerating shovel-ready construction projects.

Ian Price, CBI Wales Director, said:

“This unprecedented crisis demands an unprecedented response to get the economy back on track. The Welsh economy was already struggling before Covid-19 hit, and now every single bit of growth matters for people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“While we live with the virus, any recovery plan must continue to prioritise health as well as the impact on the economy. Urgent interventions are required to create jobs, especially for young people, and investment.

“Speed is of the essence – we know the dangers of long-term unemployment and the impact it has on individuals and communities. As research by the Centre for Towns reveals, Wales will be the worst affected part of the UK with thirteen of the top twenty most severely hit towns within our border.

“That’s why we’re calling for the recovery plan to prioritise jobs and training to support people keep their jobs and get people back to work as quickly as possible.

“Ultimately, business and government must find new, innovative ways of working together to support the recovery in the short-term and lay the foundations for a more competitive and sustainable future for the Welsh economy.”