I’m sure you will all have had the experience of asking someone what their job is and being baffled by their answer. We all have an idea of what a teacher or a builder or a nurse does, but more and more of us are now working in complex positions in computing, manufacturing and other sectors. In fact, millions of people are working in jobs that didn’t exist five or even ten years ago.
Obvious examples of these kinds of jobs are in the digital sector – whether that’s software engineering, app development or managing social media accounts – but technological progress is also changing all sorts of other jobs. Some of this is due to automation, which started decades ago on the factory floor but has grown and grown since. We are all now very used to automated checkouts in supermarkets, but in parts of the country this has gone even further – for example, in Milton Keynes small white delivery robots are a common sight trundling down the street.
This is nothing new of course – all sorts of jobs have appeared and disappeared over time. After all, you’ll struggle now to find a lamplighter, a chimney sweep of a lift operator.
The towns of Tameside know all about this. The industrial revolution saw all sorts of development and new industries springing up and we’re now living with the legacy of deindustrialisation, which has seen many good jobs disappear without always being replaced with something else.
This is why I think that it’s so important that we are ready for the next industrial revolution, which is likely to be green. The climate crisis leaves us little choice but to take a new approach and studies have predicted the creation of millions of new green jobs in the next decade.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for our borough. In order to meet the challenge and make the most of the opportunity, we need to make sure the next generation of Tamesiders have the skills needed to take up these green jobs. I know from conversations that I’ve had, that our schools, colleges, local businesses, council and the GMCA are all keen to ensure that this happens. Just as importantly, we have a generation of children and young people who care deeply about our environment and completely understand that green jobs are the jobs of the future.
Many of these jobs don’t even exist yet, but my hope is that when they do come, they’ll come to Tameside.