This is an extract from the Welsh Labour Party’s Manifesto for the forthcoming Senedd Elections. The extract concerns vocational education and the labour market, issue that Labour Affairs covers in some detail. In contrast to the policy vacuum that the national labour party seems happy to tolerate, Welsh Labour are focusing on issues of interest to voters in Wales.
Wales does not control its own money supply, so there are fairly strict limits on what a left wing government can do. Nevertheless, Welsh labour sees the importance of providing good jobs, getting young people out of unemployment, reviving towns and smaller communities and the infrastructure that supports them. To its credit Welsh Labour is also promoting social partnership and the greater involvement of trade unions in economic, training and environmental policy. Welsh Labour’s main opposition, Plaid Cymru, is also a socialist party, and it has similar policies. English labour has something to learn from the locally and regionally focused nature of left wing policymaking. The elections in Wales will give some indication of how well policies that promote the interests of working people can stand up against the Tories.
The Labour is currently just short of a majority in the Welsh Assembly-Senedd.
Welsh Labour’s Promise to Wales
Support young people who have been affected by both Brexit and the pandemic by developing a new Young Persons Guarantee, giving everyone under 25 the offer of work, education, training, or self-employment.
Create 125,000 all-age apprenticeships during the next Senedd term. We will work with unions and employers to expand the use of shared and degree apprenticeships to give people more flexible routes into training and a career.
Take forward our Economic Resilience and Reconstruction Mission for Wales and promote good quality skills in the areas where we know the economy will grow. We will strengthen Regional Skills Partnerships to ensure supply meets the changing economic needs of Wales.
Build a genuine system of lifelong learning for everyone who needs help finding work and re-training, especially those most disadvantaged. We will expand Personal Learning Accounts to allow people to study flexibly and obtain new skills.
Put into law our successful social partnership approach with employers and unions to improve workers’ rights, drive up the quality of jobs and public services, and strengthen the economy.
Tackle inequalities in work experienced by Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic communities and take forward recommendations in the Race Equality Action Plan. We will progress the Fair Work Commission’s recommendations and make Wales a genuinely Fair Work Nation. We will use the new network of Disabled People’s Employment Champions to help close the gap between disabled people and the rest of the working population.
Strengthen our Economic Contract so inclusive growth, fair work, decarbonisation, and improved mental health at work are at the heart of everything we do. We will support the Wales TUC proposals for union members to become Green Representatives in the workplace. To help upskill our workforce, we will build on the success of the Wales Union Learning Fund, scrapped in England by the Tories. Using the power of the public purse, we will use all levers at our disposal to advance the fair work agenda in Wales.
Use our £500m Wales Flexible Investment Fund to support economic recovery and expand the Development Bank of Wales’ patient capital funds to provide long-term lending to small and medium sized enterprises, entrepreneurs and start-ups. We will increase the use of equity stakes in business support. We will secure the creation of a Community Bank for Wales, supporting its growth so it has 30 branches across Wales over the next decade.
Build on our Better Jobs Closer to Home programme and our foundational economy work to grow local economies. We will develop a Backing Local Firms Fund to support local businesses. We will provide greater support for worker buyouts and, with the cooperative sector, seek to double the number of employee-owned businesses.
With local partners, we will develop masterplans for towns and high streets to coordinate and focus economic opportunities and services, so more people work and spend time in these vibrant centres. We will empower communities to have a greater stake in local regeneration.
Enable our town centres to become more agile economically, we will help businesses to work co-operatively, increase their digital offer and support local supply chains, including local delivery services. We will support the development of a register of empty buildings and help small businesses move into vacant shops.
Change the way we work, rather than commuting to the office every day we will seek a 30% target for working remotely to achieve a better work-life balance. We will develop new remote working hubs in communities, increasing footfall and creating new opportunities in town centres.
The last five years have been some of the most disruptive our economy has ever faced – austerity, Brexit and coronavirus have each had a massive impact. Brexit will profoundly reshape jobs and entire industries, while the pandemic has changed the very nature of work itself. Addressing the disruption of today while preparing for the economy of tomorrow, in a sustainable and socially just way, is one of the most important tasks of our generation.
We will build a post-pandemic, post-Brexit economy that tackles the underlying structural challenges in our economy – the climate crisis; the impact of four decades of deindustrialisation; the legacy of poverty and the need for new hope, new skills, and new opportunities. All this, against the backdrop of a lost decade of UK Tory austerity that has reduced the funding available to invest in skills, training, and infrastructure to support a vibrant sustainable economy.
The future we want will not be found in the low tax, minimal regulation, shallow-protection economy the Tories believe in. It is the values of our Labour movement and the proven record of our Welsh Labour Government on which we will build the future – we will put collaboration ahead of competition; we will work in social partnership with our trade union and business colleagues to secure durable, meaningful, and fairly rewarded work.
The next Welsh Labour Government will create secure and lasting jobs as we decarbonise our economy. We will support Welsh businesses to find new export markets and create new jobs. We will invest in the sustainable green industries of tomorrow – innovative housing, renewable energy, and new digital technologies – and we will deliver our economic future with fairness and equality at the heart of everything we do.