Training central to plans to safeguard York and North Yorkshire economy

York and North Yorkshire must seize on the unique opportunities of the region to implement a two-year plan to soften the blow of job losses and economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, business leaders have urged.

Coronavirus has seen those claiming universal credit in York and North Yorkshire soar by 148 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, while the worst case scenario data predicts regional GVA to fall by 23 per cent, with unemployment increasing to 25 per cent.

And the CBI today warned the country faces a “stark choice” between investing in workers’ skills and lifelong learning or suffering sustained rates of high unemployment.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The figures have prompted the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to develop a plan to reshape the region’s economy, addressing the challenges and opportunities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

David Kerfoot, Chair of the York and North Yorkshire LEP. Photo: JPI MediaDavid Kerfoot, Chair of the York and North Yorkshire LEP. Photo: JPI Media
David Kerfoot, Chair of the York and North Yorkshire LEP. Photo: JPI Media

And David Kerfoot, Chair of the York and North Yorkshire LEP, said: “With changing restrictions, such as we’ve seen in York at the weekend, many businesses, particularly those in hospitality, are still in the midst of crisis. Even for those who are stabilised and can manage operations around the new restrictions, they are struggling to plan very far ahead.”

The CBI said nine out of 10 people will need new skills by 2030 to support the future economy, requiring an additional £13bn a year.

The CBI said its analysis also showed failure to invest in skills will harm the livelihoods of the most disadvantaged, as participation in training by those in lower-skilled jobs most at risk of automation is 40 per cent lower than that for higher-skilled workers.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The plan to reshape the York and North Yorkshire economy prioritises action to protect jobs, support those who face redundancy and create new jobs.

It also covers wider and longer term impacts, through the reconfiguring skills delivery to meet greener, fairer, stronger outcomes.

Mr Kerfoot said: “We also need to ensure that for those who are redundant or who face unemployment, there is clear support now to help them move back into employment or towards training and upskilling for something new.

“We must also seize on our region’s USP and tangible capacity to deliver a carbon negative economy and take a globally leading role in the development of green technologies, such as bio-economy and agri-tech. In doing so we can create new, higher paid jobs and ensure that the skills landscape shores up our potential for longer term good growth and the inclusion of all communities in that opportunity.”

CBI director-general Dame Carolyn Fairbairn said: “The right skills strategy can help every worker to progress their careers, drive up living standards and level-up the country.”