Driving up skills and employability vital for Wales’ economic recovery

Action to help people who will be hardest hit by the economic impact of coronavirus will be vital for Wales’ recovery, Economy Minister Ken Skates has said.

Today’s Labour Market Statistics suggest that employment levels have been maintained in Wales at 74.4% over the past three months, but it is widely accepted these will deteriorate as UK Government wage support schemes are curtailed.

As part of its commitment to build back better, the Welsh Government is developing a comprehensive employability and skills support package.

The Welsh Government says it will offer everyone over 16 in Wales, advice and support to find work, pursue self-employment or find a place in education or training.

It will also support employers to recruit and prioritise those people who are most likely to be economically affected by Covid-19, including young people, people from BAME communities and disabled people.

The Minister today repeated his calls for the UK Government to provide further support for the more than 316,000 people in Wales who are currently furloughed and the 102,000 self-employed people in Wales who are accessing the Self Employment Income Support Scheme, to ensure they can return to work after the outbreak.

Economy Minister Ken Skates said:

“As a Welsh Government we have been working tirelessly to protect public health and support business in Wales at what is an incredibly challenging time.

“We know today’s Labour Market Statistics do not reflect the entire economic picture with economists predicting the full impact will not be felt until October.

“We are doing all that we can to mitigate the effects of this horrible disease and our £1.7bn package of support means Welsh businesses have access to the most generous package of help anywhere in the UK.

“We have already allocated nearly £1bn of this to firms across the country with more to come, and we will be reopening our £500m Economic Resilience Fund for further applications later this month.

“However, we need to complement our package of business support by providing crucial assistance to people who might have lost their job or training opportunity because of the pandemic.

“We are taking steps to do exactly that by developing a comprehensive package of support that will allow people to upskill and find new employment so we can protect a generation – and particularly the most vulnerable in our society – from the potential scarring of unemployment. If required, we will use up to £40m from our Economic Resilience Fund to deliver this.

“We need to ensure this package will add value to any initiatives the UK Government might introduce and there is no duplication. This would be similar to the way our Economic Resilience Fund works.

“It’s also absolutely crucial that the UK Government provides further support for people who are currently furloughed and those at risk of losing their jobs.

“The impact of coronavirus is vast and wide reaching but it could be a moment for fundamental change in our economy so we can build back better to ensure our future is fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable.”