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Developing the green skills of tomorrow, today

Since COP26 took place in October last year, climate change, green jobs, sustainable energy, and many more environmental topics have been at the forefront of discussions across multiple industries. With over 135 nations committing to reduce emissions by 2030 and limit global warming to 1.5C the need to adapt working practices and educate across businesses has never been more important.

If we are to meet the ambitious COP26 targets, nations around the world will need to transition to a green economy. This means changing the way we generate energy, the way we work and the way we travel. To achieve a green economy and support green growth, we will need a workforce with the right skills. Estimates suggest that by 2030 there will be 694,000 green jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy sector across England alone.

So, what work is underway to ensure we have the skilled workforce of the future?

The UK government have mobilised £12 billion investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the UK and expects over three times as much private sector investment by 2030. This investment forms part of a 10-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ which includes;

  • the production of more offshore wind,
  • increasing low carbon hydrogen production,
  • advancing nuclear as a clean energy source,
  • accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and
  • making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient.

What could a greener more sustainable society look like?

Reports and articles often discuss how we should expect a new ‘greener’ world by 2050, where carbon emissions are captured and reused; low-carbon heating in every home; AI-driven farming will produce more from less land; food ‘waste’ will be transformed into valuable medicine, and low-energy travel is the norm.  In theory, this is possible, but in practice, the transition to this type of green economy requires changes across all industries, supply chains and job roles.  Green jobs or green skills are no longer exclusive to those working in the sustainability sector e.g. wind turbine engineers or solar panel installers.  All jobs need to become greener, and we need to build the skills to do this from sales and marketing to HR and IT.

What are green skills?

Green skills is a broad term used to cover the technical skills, knowledge, behaviours and capabilities required to tackle environmental challenges and unlock the opportunities for growth they present.

At NOCN Group we recognise that we have an important role to play in supporting skills development. To help us communicate how our 600+ qualifications, apprenticeships and courses support the jobs of the future, we have categorised them as light, mid and dark green to recognise the impact that the occupation itself has in terms of scale and influence.

  • Light green: where the underlying intrinsic nature of the occupation is unchanged by sustainable/green requirements, but there may be additional duties that are done differently or in a consciously sustainable way.
  • Mid green: the principles of the occupation remain the same, but there is likely to be the need for significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours to be embedded to enable the use of new technologies and approaches.
  • Dark Green: an occupation which directly supports the low carbon agenda such as a wind turbine engineer

Our products and qualifications range from Awards in Energy Efficiency and Sustainability which can be categorised as light green. These qualifications teach learners about the effects of climate change and how improvements in energy efficiency can be applied to any industry. At the other end of the scale, we provide the End Point Assessment for the apprentices who are maintaining and operating the vital wind power to generate our electricity.

Those currently employed today make up 80% of the workforce in 2030.  Upskilling and reskilling is vital to ensure green skills are business-as-usual, and part of every job.  We must embed environment and sustainability in the curriculum, qualification specifications, apprenticeship standards and CPD programmes.

This is a big challenge, but it is nothing new. Digital skills presented similar global challenges but also created a breadth of opportunities and today are seen as a standard part of all job roles.

New ‘green’ opportunities are presented across industries every day; the sooner we develop these new green skills the sooner employees, businesses and communities will benefit.

Tracey Patmore – Head of Products, NOCN Group

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