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Editorial comment

At long last, there seems to be some light at the end of what has been a long, and very dark, COVID-19 tunnel, with vaccination programmes now underway across several countries. Here in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced a roadmap of plans which could see a cautious staged lifting of restrictions, and the reopening of businesses in England, over the next few months. The aim is to potentially remove all legal limits on social contact by 21 June (should a number of strict criteria be met). The prospect of a return to some sort of normality – at least here in England – in just a few months’ time is encouraging. However, what is clear is that COVID-19 is here to stay, and that we will all need to learn to live with the coronavirus for the foreseeable future.

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Once the spread of the disease is under control, the next challenge facing countries worldwide will be avoiding an economic long-COVID: an enduring impact from the pandemic that casts a shadow over the economy.

There are very few sectors that have been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, and a rise in unemployment has been one of the inevitable consequences of the crisis. Here in the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently announced that the country’s jobless rate rose to 5.1% in the three months to December 2020 – the highest rate for nearly five years. Bearing the brunt of the job losses were young workers. The ONS claims that 726 000 fewer people are in payrolled employment compared to the start of the pandemic, with almost three-fifths of this fall (425 000) attributable to workers under the age of 25.

While this is a depressing figure, it does represent an opportunity for the tank storage sector to engage with the next generation of talent that will shape the future of our industry. In January, the UK’s Tank Storage Association (TSA) launched two new career guides and career profiles, explaining what an apprenticeship in the bulk liquid storage sector involves, and detailing future career options and prospects. Upon launching the guides, Peter Davidson, Executive Director of the TSA, said: “In today’s fast-evolving landscape, career prospects in the tank storage sector are expanding and new and exciting opportunities are opening up for the next generation of talent.”

The bulk liquid storage industry offers a raft of rewarding career opportunities for the younger generation, ranging from jobs in business, operations, engineering, safety, marketing, science, IT, supply and trading, and many more. It is the responsibility of our sector to ensure that we reach out to the widening pool of talented young workers and apprentices to make them aware of the opportunities and rewards of a career in our growing and diverse industry.

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