The coronavirus pandemic has triggered the sharpest fall in economic output since records began. Despite unprecedented intervention to support businesses and jobs, we have seen a record rise in redundancies and rising unemployment. The pandemic has both highlighted and deepened pre-existing inequalities in the labour market, making the government’s levelling up agenda even more challenging.
As we start to emerge from the pandemic, this year’s Employment and Skills Convention will consider how we can drive the recovery after the crisis.
While the economy is starting to recover, we are seeing a steady growth of long term unemployment. We know that the longer someone is out of the labour market, the more difficult it is to return to work. We will explore how we can tackle the rise in long-term unemployment, including through the Government’s Restart programme, and support people into decent work.
The pandemic has led to rapid and disruptive change in the labour market, including in the skills employers need. Following the FE white paper earlier this year, we will explore what we can do to ensure people can access the skills that they need to succeed in the post-pandemic labour market.
Young people are among those who have borne the brunt of the crisis, and youth unemployment has surged. We know that a period of joblessness when you are young can have a lasting scarring impact on earnings and employment. As Kickstart ramps up, we will explore what we need to do to reverse the rise in youth unemployment, and ensure all young people get the best start in learning and work.
The pandemic has had a seismic impact on local economies across the UK. In many areas, it seems to have hit poorer communities harder, with the risk that we will see a deepening of pre-pandemic inequality. With the government looking to ‘level up’ opportunity across the UK, we will explore the role of local government in driving recovery and renewal.