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The importance of green skills as we move to a greener economy

23 Nov 22

Since the launch of our Clean Growth Strategy in March this year, Hertfordshire LEP has been collaborating with partners and progressing our approach to creating more ‘green’ jobs and skills opportunities within the county.

This blog by Helen Pollock, Clean Growth Manager at Hertfordshire LEP, provides a skills update on the LEP’s Clean Growth Strategy, and discusses what exactly we mean by ‘green skills’

Our strategy spotlights the potential of the Low Carbon Environment Goods Services (LCEGS) sector in bringing new green jobs for all, and the importance of partnership work in supporting, promoting and expanding the skills and education required for all local people to actively participate in this new greener economy. This transition will require significant upskilling, investment and innovation by the public and private sectors, creating whole new industries, technologies, and professions.

As a LEP, our first essential step has been to identify and address green skills gaps by understanding business skills needs and influencing skills stakeholders’ activities, with a focus on delivering green skills related to Off-site Manufacturing (OSM), retrofit and Electric Vehicles (EV).

With 100,000 new homes planned by 2031, Hertfordshire can be at the forefront of producing sustainable built environments through offsite manufacturing. Chris Stark, the UK Climate Change Committee chief executive, estimates that decarbonising buildings and retrofitting energy-saving features and technologies could create 200,000 jobs, as more than 65% of the 15.5 million, UK owner-occupied homes are rated below C for energy performance at present. The energy sector has to fill 400,000 jobs to get the UK to net zero by 2050 and zero emission vehicles alone could support 40,000 new jobs in the UK by 2030.

To advance these opportunities in Hertfordshire, the LEP has pledged to:

  • Work with our existing skills provision to deliver the appropriate skills solutions
  • Work with partners to ensure businesses and education partners enable curriculum development to evolve to include the green skills needed for current and future employers and LCEGS employment opportunities
  • Support and drive our own careers and skills portal, Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal, to strengthen the LCEGS sector offer, highlighting green job opportunities for all.

In 2018, active businesses in England’s low carbon and renewable energy economy (LCREE) generated close to £37 billion in turnover and employed 185,000 full time workers. It is predicted that in the UK the number of LCREE jobs in 2030 and 2050 will be 804,000 and 1.38 million respectively.

The Government‘s Green Jobs Task Force is setting the skills marketplace and direction to support and enable the skills sector as we adapt to net zero.

Industry sectors under its focus include:

  •  Power – renewables (such as wind, solar and hydropower), nuclear power, grid infrastructure, energy storage and smart systems technology;
  • Business and industry –hydrogen production and industrial use, carbon capture, utilisation & storage (CCUS) and industrial decarbonisation;
  • Homes and buildings –retrofit, building new energy-efficient homes, heat pumps, smart devices and controls, heat networks and hydrogen boilers;
  • Transport –low or zero emission vehicles, aviation and maritime, rail, public transport and walking or cycling;
  •  Natural resources –nature restoration, tree planting and decarbonising agriculture, waste management and recycling;
  • Enabling decarbonisation – science and innovation for climate change, green finance, circular economy and energy networks;
  • Climate adaptation –flood defences, retrofitting of buildings to be resilient to extreme weather/climate events, nature-based solutions to reduce climate impacts and civil and mechanical engineering for infrastructure adaptation

However, as we transition to a greener economy, our understanding of what is meant by ‘green jobs’ and ‘green skills’ is evolving. Every job has the potential to become green or be affected by greening, but not all jobs or sectors will be impacted in the same way or at the same time.

Greens skills is the umbrella term for the technical skills, knowledge, behaviour and capabilities required to tackle the environmental challenges we face and to unlock new opportunities for growth. Core environmental challenges that green skills span are: nature and biodiversity; climate change and decarbonisation; waste and pollution reduction.

Several recent green skills reports highlight that the future demand for green jobs and skills is likely to sit on a spectrum - ranging from specific technical requirements in activities directly supporting the transition to a greener economy, to more general sustainability roles that work across organisations and sectors to ensure alignment and coherence. The latter, broader skills like management and people skills, are essential for implementing rapid cultural and organisational change and ensuring the efficiency of green activities.

In this context, it makes sense to adopt a more scaled approach like the ‘green’, ‘greening’ and ‘greening potential’ jobs and ‘green skills intensity’ approach used by LinkedIn analysis. For example, green jobs with the highest green skills intensity include sustainability specialists or solar consultants whereas ‘greening’ and ‘greening potential’ jobs (requiring some level of green knowledge) could include HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technicians, construction workers, logistics managers and communication officers.

If you would like to learn more about skills for green jobs and/or the LEP’s Clean Growth Strategy contact helen.pollock@hertfordshirelep.co.uk

1 Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce, National Grid, January 2020
2 The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, HM Government, November 2020
3 Local green jobs – acceleration a sustainable economic recovery, An Ecuity Consulting report for the Local Government Association