The Welsh Economy Minister Ken Skates has announced a package of support to help drive up skills and the employability of those hardest hit by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus crisis in Wales, including young people in particular.
Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Skates said the Welsh Government will offer everyone over the age of 16 in Wales advice and support to find work, pursue self-employment or to find a place in education and training schemes.
It comes as the number of people unemployed in Wales is expected to rise following the ending of support schemes later this year such as the furlough scheme and the Welsh Government’s own Economic Resilience Fund. Labour Market Statistics suggest that employment levels in Wales have been maintained at 74.4% over the past three months, but it is expected that these levels will worsen as the full scale of the economic impact of COVID-19 takes effect.
Employers will also be supported under the plans so that they can recruit and prioritise people who are most likely to be economically affected by COVID-19, including young people, disabled people and people from BAME communities and backgrounds.
Announcing the support, Mr Skates said;
“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.
The Minister has also said that it is ‘absolutely crucial’ that the UK Government provides further support to people who are at risk of losing their jobs during to the pandemic and those that are currently on furlough.
The UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced last month that the furlough scheme is being extended through until October, though some of the terms of the scheme are to change for employers from August.
Asked on Tuesday about the reopening of parts of the tourism industry in Wales, Mr Skates said the Welsh Government would not suggest a date for reopenings until they could commit to it. The Welsh Government is to review the current lockdown measures later this week, with it thought that an announcement may be made on Friday on the reopening of retail outlets in the not too distant future.
1,456 people have so far died with COVID-19 in Wales, according to data from Public Health Wales.
Photo Credit: Welsh Government