Alex’s insight: more funding is needed for green skills

A lot more needs to be done to support the UK’s transition to net zero. Training providers will be essential for this transition and Workpays are calling for more funding and a joined-up strategy to ensure the British workforce has the skills it needs to compete.

We know that the future is green. In fact, there is no future if it isn’t green.

Green skills, however, are woefully underfunded.

Bridging the Gap: Challenges in Green Skills Education

At Workpays, we want to future proof the Midlands’ workforce and we are particularly focused on those people who are most distant from the job market or who face greater barriers. It is exactly these people who stand to lose the most as all jobs become green jobs – with only 13% of the UK labour force having the green skills needed – and as the UK becomes less competitive, it is this group who will also suffer the most.

We know the importance here and everyone, from companies, to people, to the government are saying all the right things. However, just as many (me included) of us continue to fly, drive petrol cars, and eat lots of meat, so government rhetoric has often not been backed up with meaningful action.

In our sector it means that there are very few courses that have funding from the government, despite the real demand from young people across the country.

The government has taken small action in certain areas – £9.2mn to supporting the growth of heat pumps and retrofitting training; £2.4mn of funding for skills bootcamps in the North East to focus on areas such as construction and green energy.

These are incredibly important as we look to reduce our carbon footprint, but it is not enough to get us to net zero. According to the London Councils’ Green Skills Report, this is hampering FE and HE providers’ ability to respond to the emerging skills need.

At Workpays, we believe that every job should be a green job; whether it be a team leader reducing the carbon footprint of his or her team; or a customer service advisor ensuring that the support they provide to customers helps make climate-sensible decisions. That is why every course we offer has a green element, stressing the role that each one of us plays in reaching net zero.

Whether or not there is funding available, we will ensure our learners have the skills they need: not only equipping them with the ability to support the UK’s transition to net zero, but also giving them a significant advantage in the competitive job market.

Workpays is one of the few providers who has taken these steps – partly because we know the damage this transition could wreak on those who need the most support. With 30% of job listings in the last year on LinkedIn requiring at least one green skill, we know we have to act now.

Shaping a Greener Future: The Call for Collective Action

To get the most benefit for the UK and its people, more must be done centrally. This is why we are calling for significantly more investment into green skills so that everyone can join us on our journey.

Alongside other organisations and reports, we are calling for long term strategy and, most importantly, funding to ensure the UK gets the most out of the transition.

Joining together to create the right environment and embedding the right mindset in our learners, we could create a world-leading greener workforce for a greener future. We’d also safeguard the UK to boot, adding 3% to our GDP and creating 300,000 jobs.

The future is green. It has to be. And whether we like it or not, it will impact us – with 20% of jobs requiring a change in skills as a result of the net zero transition. Training providers and the government have a duty to act. The current dearth of funding will not only leave the most vulnerable in the UK behind, but our country too, as it loses our competitive advantage. Let us face this challenge head on and welcome it for the benefits it will bring: for our learners, for our country, for the world.

By Alex Glasner, Managing Director at Workpays

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