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Yesterday, George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, promised to ‘put the fuel into the tank of the British economy’. Today, he will announce his ‘budget for growth’.
But can young people, struggling with record unemployment levels, knowing that we may well be left with the problem of how to fill Britain’s tank against the ever increasing threat of climate change, really see this as a budget for our growth? Or, to be more precise, a budget for the growth of the future that we want?
Last week’s unemployment figures shed light on the danger of a large number of the UK population, particularly us, the younger generation, becoming increasingly marginalised and alienated from a society that cannot provide us with pathways into meaningful, fair and sustained work.
We are therefore now at a crucial crossroads. Rather than continuing to struggle with disparate challenges, now is the time to shift with full force behind nurturing the growth of a green economy, the growth of a cleaner, fairer world and the growth of today’s young people; placing us at the core of building this future. The government can achieve this by creating Green Jobs for young people, connecting to the 40,000 apprenticeships promised in last year’s Budget.
This will create a more certain future for youth today, both economically and environmentally.
The Budget must therefore focus on creating jobs to improve people’s livelihoods. To do this while maintain a commitment to the future of young people and our planet, Osborne must move away from the traditional sense of ‘fuelling’ the economy, and capitalise on the innovation and potential that the provision of green jobs and training for young people can bring to the UK.
Climate change policies don’t have to be at odds with employment opportunities for young people and improving family livelihoods. In fact, they can go hand in hand. In place of aggressive economic growth, a transition to a green economic structure will nurture growth in employment levels, and encourage disengaged youth to rise to maturity in working directly to create a better future.
Green apprenticeships and Green Jobs, far from being a distraction from the urgency of social and welfare priorities, have enormous potential to help us work towards a more equitable society, which is environmentally and economically sustainable.
With unemployment at a 17-year high of 8%, and youth unemployment at 22.5%, businessman Lord Digby Jones yesterday made the point that it should be made more worthwhile to work . Green Jobs can therefore provide young people with reigning in skills essential for building a cleaner, fairer future, and meaningful, long-term employment.
The increased levy on oil and gas production proposed to fund keeping costs down as part of the fair fuel stabiliser – shows that Osborne may have begun to recognise that moving towards a low-carbon economy will also create a better society for us all to live in.
In his address to the House of Commons yesterday, the Chancellor told MPs that improving family livelihoods and stimulating business through reforming the economy were “one and the same thing”, he missed out a key method in fixing these two things: go green, and get the young people who will inherit both how this economic crisis is dealt with and a world at tipping point, employed in the driving seat to build their future in green jobs.