Up to 1.4m people could be left unemployed as a result of this severe shock to the economy, according to projections from the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility.
The SMF suggests that ministers should implement a work-and-training guarantee programme for the unemployed with each participant paid the minimum wage.
The training and work would be geared towards the ‘green jobs’ that will be needed to help deliver a lower-carbon economy, such as insulating homes, replacing gas boilers and installing electric-vehicle charging points.
The SMF report said that a jobs guarantee scheme should follow these principles:
- Training as a central element. Participants be given 20% of their working week for training and education. Workplace training should be the priority, but spare capacity in universities could also be used to offer distance learning to some participants.
- Private sector placements should be the priority. Employers benefiting from what amounts to free state-funded labour should be obliged to provide or source training for participants.
- Fill the low-carbon skills gap. Placements under the scheme should prioritise the skills and labour needed to deliver the changes needed to meet the UK’s net-zero goals, especially the decarbonisation of home heating and the installation of charging points for electric vehicles.
Kathryn Petrie, SMF chief economist said: “There is a pressing need to provide better support for those who lose work in this crisis, but also an opportunity. A well-designed guarantee of work and training could protect people from lasting damage, support UK skills and support the greening of the economy.”