Thousands of jobs could become at risk in Stratford area as a result of ‘greening’ the economy, a new report has warned.
The study shows the effects of decarbonisation are likely to trigger job losses in the district and surrounding area, because of its strong reliance on the car making industry.
One in every ten workers in the district is employed in the vehicle manufacturing sector, with the biggest employers Jaguar LandRover and Aston Martin.
And more than 8,000 jobs could be impacted as a result of traditional car manufacturing being wound-down to meet the government’s decarbonisation targets.
The report by the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) Decarbonisation Dynamics – Mapping the UK transition to net zero also warns that areas like Stratford, which are hardest hit by the ‘green job revolution’, could also miss out on funding.
Stratford is not in the government’s top priority areas to receive levelling-up funding.
Stratford district councillor Ian Shenton, who has special responsibility for climate change, told the Herald: “One of the problems we face is that while green technology and decarbonisation might bring in new jobs, the danger is that the new jobs aren’t within our area.”
The Conservative councillor also referred to the government’s pledge to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2030, warning it is vital for a car battery production plant, known as a ‘gigafactory,’ to be opened in the Coventry area so that workers here can find new jobs in the rapidly growing electric vehicle (EV) industry.
He said: “When we start to lose the motor manufacturing industry and steel and engineering, all these things are going to change in terms of production. What happens then to our area? Where are the new jobs going to come from?
“I have no doubt that new jobs will be created but will they be here and will they be in the same quantity that we’ve lost jobs? How do we train people into new roles? And will those industries come to Stratford, or close enough for our workforce to be able to get to them?”
The RSA report calls on government and local councils to make sure workers whose jobs are at risk are helped to retrain or find work in other ‘greener’ sectors.
It proposes a ‘Just Transition fund’ to help pay for training and advice and for ‘job security councils’ to be set up around the county. These would be guided by local authorities and offer career guidance and even a basic income to tide workers over while they learn new skills.
Cllr Shenton said: “The problem is that people are going to be asked to retrain whilst in an existing job, or they have to leave that job and retrain and during that time their income could drop.
“How do they pay their gas bill and their mortgage and put food on the table? There are lots of unanswered questions in terms of how the government is going to handle this. There’s not enough detail in the plans.”
As a big producer of spares and parts for the motor industry, the Midlands is also home to hundreds of smaller motor vehicle parts and service suppliers.
If these are no longer needed once the traditional internal combustion engine is phased out, the resulting business closures could plunge thousands more jobs into jeopardy.
“Behind the motor industry is a whole raft of other industries that support it. The impact will be greater than people realise,” Cllr Shenton explained.
“By 2030 with no new petrol or diesel vehicles being produced, we’ve got to find new jobs, retrain people, re-skill them and that’s a mammoth task.”
He added: “I want to be optimistic and say we will adapt but the truth is at this moment in time, I really don’t know how this is going to play out for Stratford, for Warwick and the West Midlands.”