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The Skills Network’s Green Skills Solution

As the climate crisis grows, calls for an integration of a fourth functional sustainability skill into mass upskilling across the country are clear and The Skills Network is developing resources to help.

As the climate crisis grows, calls for an integration of a fourth functional sustainability skill into mass upskilling across the country are clear and The Skills Network is developing resources to help.


In October 2021 the state of the climate was highlighted in Glasgow, where more than 200 of the world’s leaders united to discuss the climate crisis at COP26.

The event described as “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control” [1], brought talks of a green industrial revolution and a reaffirmation of the commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5C.

Now six months later and amidst an exceptional energy crisis throughout the UK, the demand for sustainable energy, practices and knowledge is now paramount for the future both of the economy and society as a whole.

Why now?

As the climate crisis grows, calls for an integration of a fourth functional skill into mass upskilling across the country are clear. The three functional skills areas – those basic skills required for a successful life – have been focused on Maths, English and ICT comprehension. But now a push for a fourth and vital upskilling resource in climate sustainability is emerging – critical to turn the tide on climate change.

The workplace has seen an 142% increase in the demand for “green” knowledge in employment over the last five years, with hard skills in Sustainability, Environment Health and Safety and Auditing now critically needed. This, alongside a growing green sector is demanding skills in practical “how to do” sustainability and pushing ITPs and educators to step up to the mark in green skills training.

The growth of “green” offers prediction of the direction the job market is traveling, but to solve the climate crisis it is now fundamental that “green skills” are integrated across all sectors. Targeting green jobs alone will not bring the scale of change needed to meet sustainability targets.

In 2021, FE Week published an article on the sustainability roadmap for FE and HE institutions in the UK.[2] The UNESCO 2030 roadmap is clear on its instruction, calling for climate-ready learning environments, empowerment and upskilling of educators as well as more support for youth mobilisation on climate action.

When it comes to skills training to facilitate the scale of social change required to fight climate change, it’s essential that those operating in non-green jobs have access to green skills training to develop widespread individual sustainability practices.

While green skills training is becoming ever more essential for employability, the challenge remains of inducing widespread personal and societal change in behaviour, ensuring individuals know how their choices, as citizens and consumers, impact on the climate and future generations.

This means that our challenge goes far beyond developing skills for green jobs. We need to embed mass eco-literacy and sustainability skills across all sectors, job roles and society as a whole.

A growing body of research is highlighting the concerns of those from younger generations, with Gen Z’s and Millennials now the most active groups in addressing climate change. Recent research by Deloitte has shown that for Gen Z, the environment is their number one concern, closely followed by unemployment and health care/disease prevention. The reasons for such concerns are clear; Our young people are watching disaster after disaster unfold, and it is now, more than ever, time to act to prevent the biggest disaster of all.

Those of us working within the skills sector are clear on our responsibility in this fight and we at The Skills Network are leading on this with the development of our training provisions.

How can it be done?

To address the climate sustainability skills shortage, we must train in a way that looks beyond the green sector, focusing on developing a provision that is widely accessible.

With few resources offering practical action through skills training, now a regulatory requirement for colleges, educators have an essential role in embedding sustainability training into all elements of education – bringing climate action to life through real case study scenarios and practical application.

We at The Skills Network are proud to be one of the first ITP’s to develop and offer to the market just this – a leading solution for mass sustainability and eco literacy skills development in non-green jobs.

There is a lack of training and resources on practical sustainability and carbon reduction methods on a national scale in the UK and as a market leading provider of learning and skills, we at The Skills Network, have urgently developed an innovative end-to-end learning solution to meet the demands of those operating within the education space. We are leading on the national delivery of sustainability training, accessing those operating in industries far removed from the “green sector”.

For educators, our fool proof provision and expert content allows teachers to embed environmental sustainability into their own subject. We are able to train staff while providing adaptable, sector specific examples and practical applications of sustainability practices, and provide the resources to develop this knowledge for students. Through the quality of our technology and expertly developed course content, educators can now become sustainability champions – instantly! And it is the simplicity and accessibility of this resource that will prove key in the fight against environmental disaster. 

The critical element here is the impact of our training. We do not need more people to simply know more things, but rather to feel able, empowered and ready to do more. To meet this challenge, and to address the sustainability skills gap, we are launching a suite of transformative solutions.

Our new suite of fully accredited training courses cover key topics related to environmental sustainability including the control of global warming, reducing carbon emission and efficient energy management, with embedded case studies and activities throughout. Our sustainability content is delivered through two Level 2 Certificates in Sustainability and Sustainability Impact for Work.  The content has been developed to align with the UN’s 17 sustainable Development Goals, addressing the global challenges we face including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity and peace and justice.

Through the first three modules, students will explore the key principles of sustainable developments, communities and energy management. This content is closely aligned to SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production. The remaining four modules explore themes of social responsibility for businesses, the principles of waste management, sustainable transport and a module exploring the application of sustainability principles in applicable settings.

Throughout each unit there are opportunities to apply learning, including small home based tasks and larger ideas for college based activities. This approach allows for the development of competency-based sustainability knowledge and skills that can be aligned to multiple roles and sectors, making learners more employable and able to use the practical skills developed to effect positive changes within society.

The content is aligned to the global context. As well as incorporating the concepts from the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, we have embedded key information from the biggest summits on climate change on an international scale, allow the development of the most relevant and expert sustainability training provision produced to date.

To help transform cultures, systems, communities and societies, this offer is designed to find ways to meet the people where they are, and shrink the distance between the issues we collectively face and the personal choices we make every day.

The courses are available is at no cost for educators, funded by the Government’s Adult Education Budget and will be deployed to schools and institutes across the country through our award-winning learner management system Equal. The development and delivery of such content looks to lead the way in sustainability and climate education on a national scale, encouraging educators and students to equip themselves with the tools necessary to change the direction of the climate crisis now.

The next step?

The EU is applying a requirement that 25% of skills funding must now be allotted to sustainability linked programmes, – this provides a likely forecast to skills funding allocations in the UK. This alongside further Government investment into the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, shows the funding sources in the pipeline for sustainability training provisions in the coming months and years.

The Skills Network is ahead of the curve, acting to fulfil the most critical skills shortage crisis ever seen, through their expertly developed provision.

It’s time for the industry to catch up and join the climate fight together so become a sustainability champion today.

Want to know more? See The Skills Network’s Sustainability training content here https://bit.ly/3qUJQLv

[1] https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ukraine-invasion-chills-cop26-fossil-fuel-commitments-f0nr2h0kj

[2] https://www.fenews.co.uk/featured-article/64823-further-education-s-role-in-the-sustainable-society-roadmap

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