Skills shortage risks PM’s Green Industrial Revolution

Industry leaders partner with national charity to fuel green economy

As the UK turns its focus to life beyond the pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently announced his 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution and has announced today a new uncompromising goal to reduce carbon emissions. This renewed and determined schedule for decarbonisation will require a significant step up from sectors such as energy, construction and transport. The UK should be leading the way on climate change efforts as the host of next year’s COP26.

It is no coincidence that Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for BEIS is also the President of COP26. The journey to net-zero carbon is undeniably intertwined with the advancement of UK industry. According to Yale’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the UK’s environmental credentials rank 4th out of 180 countries, and the government must recognise not only the importance of its environmental mandate but also the economic potential of “building back greener”.

To fulfil the increased target set out today, industries will need to source the people that can help achieve these goals and these people are in school today. However, after losing six months of vital education, young people need more support than ever to gain the skills and experience needed in green industries.

Bringing fairness back into the school system is Speakers for Schools, a national charity launching an annual campaign to introduce, develop and hone green skills for future generations. Green Skills Week has the support of Britain’s most environmentally focused employers to tackle the unemployment crisis and future-proof the next generation in a post-COVID economy. Young people aged 11+ will be invited to take part in the charity’s Green Skills Week in April 2021 which will introduce them to sector leaders and potential employers within Green technology and finance. Green Skills Week will offer young people valuable insight days, practical experience and access unique training and recruitment opportunities.

The campaign will kickstart with a series of virtual talks by eminent leaders from key industries in the 10-point plan. During the Easter holiday, young people will attend virtual insight days, take part in work experience placements and explore pathways from professionals in industries such as electric vehicle manufacturing, agroforestry, advanced fuels and nuclear energy.

Speakers for Schools works with approaching 250 of the UK’s leading employers and will partner with pioneering organisations who are passionate about building green skills for the future, such as leading UK construction company Morgan Sindall and Johnson Matthey, a leader in sustainable technologies. The industry sectors which will be featured are: Science, Nature, Construction, Infrastructure and Utilities, Technology, Travel, Construction, Accountancy and Investment, Public Policy and Consultancy. Jobs which support the green economy include scientists and engineers supporting nuclear and renewable energy, environmental impact consultants, technicians able to install energy-efficient measures for homes, schools and hospitals and scientists to interpret climate change projections.

Robert Peston, Founder of Speakers for Schools and Political ITV Editor, said: “The COVID-19 crisis is focussing minds on the jobs and skills we will need for a sustainable return to growth and prosperity. Speakers for Schools is proud to be making its contribution via Green Skills Week.”

Chair of Speakers for Schools, Andrew Law added: “Green Skills Week is a great fit for both appealing to the students of today and for businesses that need them to help drive a greener future.”

Jason Elsom, CEO, Speakers for Schools, said: “As the pandemic presents unprecedented barriers to young people, this is a great opportunity to help them imagine an exciting future and start to equip them with the skills and experiences they need to flourish in the Green Economy. As the UK aims to reach net-zero by 2050, the key players to make this happen are in education today and together we must build pathways for all young people to contribute to this ambitious goal.”

Andy Haldane, Chief Economist at the Bank of England added: “A green revolution will require green skills, especially among younger people. Green Skills week is about fast streaming those skills and, with them, the green revolution.”

Jane King, UK Environment Manager for Morgan Sindall Construction said “It is a fantastic opportunity for Morgan Sindall Construction to get involved with Green Skills Week. Responding to the climate and biodiversity emergency is critical to the long term sustainability of the construction sector and there is a huge gap to fill. There is a massive opportunity to harness the younger generations enthusiasm and passion within the future of the built environment and it’s supply chain.”

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