‘Shovel ready’ manufacturing job schemes to boost jobs, stave off rising unemployment and tackle the climate emergency are staring Boris Johnson and the cabinet in the face, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 23 February).

The claim, made by Unite the union, comes amid mounting concerns that the UK is moving too slowly if it wants to retain its position as a modern manufacturing nation, overlooking clear opportunities to create urgently needed jobs to arrest the continuing rise in unemployment. 

With the UK experiencing its worst slump in economic growth since the Great Frost of 1709, Unite says that there is ‘no time to waste'.  Latest figures show that 1.74 million are now jobless - the highest rate for five years – and with more jobs expected to be lost when furlough ends.

Unite's A Plan for Jobs in UK Manufacturing - available here https://unitetheunion.org/shovelready -  produced in consultation with Acuity Analysis, sets out seven projects that are best placed to create jobs now and assist the UK in meeting its climate change obligations.

Unite is concerned that major manufacturers are making investment decisions now, but will be deterred from putting money into UK sites because of the government's ‘lukewarm' approach to manufacturing, green and emerging technologies.  

Unite’s ‘magnificent seven’ shovel ready projects are:

  • Housing Retrofit – a programme to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions in people’s homes that would create thousands of jobs a year for decades to come, including manufacturing more of the products needed to make it happen, here in the UK.
  • Carbon Capture Use and Storage – using our North Sea gas and oil network to store excess carbon would create 68,000 jobs by 2050. 
  • Automotive Renewal Scheme – supporting UK-made vehicles would provide a real and necessary boost to the sector, employment and environment.
  • Gigafactories – building seven new electric vehicle battery factories and manufacturing other high value EV components here in the UK, would save and create tens of thousands of new jobs by 2040, in addition to some 10,000 during construction.  The plants would also ensure the UK leads the transition to green vehicles, buses and commercials, retaining its ‘jewel in the crown’ automotive sector and bringing stability and investment back to a sector adjusting to post-Brexit trading.
  • Aircraft Replacement Scheme – replacing older aircraft with quieter, more efficient and cleaner models would protect jobs and breathe new life into UK aerospace manufacturing.
  •  Offshore Wind – Doubling the number of UK wind turbines by 2024 would create 13,000 jobs by 2024. By 2030, 27,000 jobs could be created, rising to 80,000 by 2054, while pushing on with hydro, solar and nuclear plans for a balanced green energy policy.
  •  Broadband – The roll-out of high-speed fibre optic broadband to every UK home would create 59,000 jobs across the country. 

Launching the report, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “These shovel ready manufacturing projects, which will boost jobs and help fulfil the country’s climate targets, are staring the government in the face. 

"With unemployment rising, there is no time to waste.  The prime minister and his cabinet should show now that they are committed to making 2021 a year for jobs by green-lighting these projects.

"Decisions are being made now in boardrooms around the globe by companies looking to invest in nations that provide a sound plan and sincere partnership to develop tomorrow's advanced manufacturing.

"The UK government's lukewarm support for manufacturing and its transition to green technologies is causing problems in attracting jobs and investment, so we say it is high time that you step up, not just to back UK workers, but to keep industries like automotive and aerospace centre stage of the UK economy as we recover and rebuild. 

“We have a responsibility to green and clean our towns and cities, our seas and skies, as the wider benefit to the country and planet are evident.  Investing in these projects now can assist stem the hopelessness and economic degradation that occur when those, who could be working, are abandoned to a life on the dole. 

“So far our government has been completely lacking in its ambitions, especially compared to our competitor nations. Germany is investing €40 billion in green tech, while France is investing €25 billion.  

“Meanwhile, the ambitions of the UK government only stretch to £4 billion.  

“Even the government’s much-trumpeted Green Homes Grant scheme is being cut by £1.1 billion, despite the scheme’s vital necessity.  

“We implore Boris Johnson and his government to act quickly and demonstrate to the nation that they are serious about creating jobs and tackling climate change.” 

ENDS

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.