I will prioritise skills and training to ensure everyone in West Yorkshire has the skills they need to secure work.

Our economy hasn’t worked for working people for a long time, and this has been laid bare again by the pandemic. Before it, poverty and inequality were rising, driven by Tory austerity and a changing economy. West Yorkshire is facing a long recovery whilst at the same time we need our region to attract new jobs and industry.

Our proud heritage in manufacturing and textiles is being supplemented by a new digital and green economy creating new opportunities. However, we need to ensure that the pay and conditions are good for workers, and this will be central to putting fairness at the heart of my economic agenda. 

1 in 5 jobs in West Yorkshire pay less than the Living Wage. I will spearhead a campaign with Living Wage UK to make West Yorkshire a Living Wage region, boosting the number of businesses paying the real living wage.

I will support people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic to re-skill and re-train into new, good job opportunities, supporting the good work already happening in our councils. All Adult Education will include an element of digital skills as nearly all work needs a basic knowledge of technology. With this in mind, I will build on the brilliant work already being done by our tech sector and Universities to spearhead a Digital Academy, supported by business and academics to ensure our young people have the skills required to be the entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers and creatives of the future. I will also widen the Leeds Digital Festival to a West Yorkshire wide festival, showing the world we have the talented workforce they need. With 7% of the gaming sector already based in Leeds, I know we can go further.

As Mayor, I will be fighting on the national and international stage to bring funding and investment across West Yorkshire – not just for our big cities but for our towns, villages and former mining communities. My priority is to create good jobs that are accessible to local people, and we need a recovery based on skills, not on a race to the bottom on pay.

I will support Screen Skills, Screen Yorkshire, Production Park in Wakefield, our brilliant Universities and the West Yorkshire College consortium to support and expand the Centre of Screen Excellence and build a skilled craft workforce outside London and the South East.

My commitment to zero carbon emissions by 2038 means we must urgently retrofit our homes and public buildings as well as build green, affordable housing. With this in mind I will ensure there are the relevant Green Courses on offer for our young people to get the skills they will need to deliver on my ambitious target, with particular emphasis on construction and engineering skills.

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