I have joined other Members of Parliament, Council leaders, trade unionists and business people across Greater Manchester to call on the Prime Minister to invest in education, jobs and skills to address the problems caused by the pandemic.
The letter, sent by the Greater Manchester Westminster Group, highlights the need for green jobs and the improvement of apprenticeships both for employers and apprentices themselves.
Unfortunately, no Conservative MP was willing to join the All Party Parliamentary Group for Greater Manchester, which requires cross-Party support, therefore the formal grouping has had to disband. This is a shocking sign of the priorities of Conservative MPs.
The group now exists as the Greater Manchester Westminster Group and is made up of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent MPs and peers.
The text of the letter states:
“We are writing to highlight our concerns over the impact of the pandemic on Greater Manchester’s future economic growth and the scale of the post-pandemic gap in education, skills and jobs.
Greater Manchester has been hit harder by the pandemic than most. We have seen the prevailing disparities and inequalities in education, skills and employment heightened throughout lock down and jobs and opportunities in some sectors have simply been lost. We have been living under coronavirus restrictions for much longer than other areas in the UK, leaving us with a far wider gap to fill.
We believe that Greater Manchester can bounce back quickly if your Government commits to investing in the skills and jobs we need and devolves further powers to our regional leaders so they can use local knowledge to truly level-up investment and opportunities.
We have the insight required to deliver the most impact locally. By working in partnership with education providers and employers who are doing fantastic work in Greater Manchester already, we can create bespoke reskilling and upskilling programmes. Working with regional leaders is the most effective way to close the skills gap, get people into good work, attract private sector investment and drive inclusive growth in sectors such as digital and the green economy.
We need to educate and train young people today in the skills we need for tomorrow if we are to build back and recover. At the same time, we need to invest in lifelong learning so that today’s workforce have the ability to upskill, retrain and adjust to the evolving demands of the labour market.
We believe that by improving apprenticeships, for both employers and their apprentices, building on the Kickstart programme and devolving more powers over post-16 education and skills budgets, we can supercharge our recovery and level up skills, education and jobs in Greater Manchester.
We want your Government to harness and celebrate our ambitions for a green recovery and promise to help us kickstart sustainable and inclusive growth across the Greater Manchester conurbation.
As we move towards recovery, the Greater Manchester economy will need new and green skills to build back better. Our region has a proud history of innovation and leading the way in new technologies and industries.
Getting Greater Manchester back to work and getting the economy moving will require better, faster, and greener connectivity and infrastructure, new high tech and digital skills and the acceleration of ‘green’ jobs to decarbonise our lives. We believe Greater Manchester can lead the “Green Industrial Revolution”.
Given the shortfall created by the pandemic, we are absolutely committed to working together to build back better education and employment for the people of Greater Manchester and to provide greater life chances for tomorrow’s generation.
We hope you will work with us to get this right and remove prevailing inequalities and barriers to growth. With your support, Greater Manchester can unlock much needed growth and lead the way to a sustainable future.”