August 2020: News from your local MP

July 28 2020

We mustn’t leave next generation behind

THE road to economic recovery post-COVID may well be a long one, but we are now moving in the right direction.
One of the most important things we must bear in mind as we emerge from this national emergency is to ensure that young people still in education, or just embarking on their careers, have many opportunities. We need to nurture the knowledge and wealth creators of tomorrow now, so that they can reach their full potential and benefit not only themselves, but their families, neighbours, and our country with their successes.
The Prime Minister has made a pledge to offer an Opportunity Guarantee, that every young person will have the opportunity to undertake either an apprenticeship or a work placement to help foster the skills and grow the experience they need to flourish. The Chancellor has promised approximately £2bn worth of spending on jobs and training, including a Kickstart Scheme. This scheme will offer to pay businesses the minimum wage costs of each young person aged 16-24 they employ on this basis, up to 25 hours a week, for up to six months. In addition, employers who take on a trainee or an apprentice will be eligible for bonuses, up to £3,000 per new hire over the next six months.
This is particularly important to our engineering industry, and I know well that many local employers in the engineering sector will agree. A study by the Engineering Construction Industry Trade Board forecast that 91,000 engineers and 26,000 engineering technicians in the UK will have retired by 2026. Whilst this is a daunting prospect for those worried about skills gaps, it means there is a world of opportunity ahead for young people looking to get on in this industry.
I am supporting the sector as an officer for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Apprenticeships, but I want the Government to back our aerospace industry by committing to a scrappage scheme for old and polluting aircraft. I was able to put this to the Prime Minister at PMQs and was pleased to hear him commit to looking into my proposal. Such an idea would not only be the right thing for the environment, it would also help protect local jobs and cement our commitment to an economic recovery led by clean growth. The Government must also introduce more flexibility into how funds built up through the Apprenticeship Levy are spent, which might help remove some of the barriers businesses face when looking to take on new apprentices.
Young people can be among the hardest hit in times of economic turbulence: they tend to work in industries more vulnerable to downturns, and are more likely to become unemployed. However, we don’t have to make today’s young people the ‘Covid generation’, for whom we expect fewer opportunities. I will champion efforts to invest in our future so history will remember this next generation as plucky innovators and strivers, who helped revive a stalled economy with fresh ideas and youthful energy.