As official figures show the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and restrictions have resulted in record falls in output for the services and production sectors, the party’s economy spokesperson said:
“While these figures are stark, it is unsurprising given the restrictions that were in place and this has had a particular impact on these sectors.
“Services include everything from bars, restaurants, gyms, beauty salons to leisure and communications, while production is also diverse and includes things like manufacturing and mining.
“Many of these businesses had to cease operating and are only slowly resuming operations.
“The furlough scheme has been key to preventing wide scale job losses but is due to end at the end of October.
“We now need to be planning for the economic recovery that is going to support businesses in the short term as they are navigating reopening, likely on a smaller scale than pre-lockdown, and also look at how the economy more broadly recovers in the months and years ahead.
“An extension or replacement of the furlough scheme needs to be part of that, it has helped keep workers in contact with their employers but we now need to be looking at the employment landscape and helping those workers get back into employment and that may require training and re-skilling.
“The economic recovery strategy needs to take account of that by putting in place training opportunities; this means working with the further and higher education providers as well as businesses and industry to ensure programmes put in place are being met with demand.
“Interventions for young people will be vital as youth unemployment is expected to hit 25%, so we need to see both training and employment supports.
“In shaping and planning for the economic recovery, we need to be strategic and ambitious – that means doing things differently and not returning to the normality of low productivity and precarious work.
“We have the opportunity to strive for better and we need to take it,“ added the East Derry MLA.