Calum Carson, Labour Market and Policy Research Officer, ERSA

The Employment Support Sector and Net Zero 

The Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) is the representative body for the employment support sector. The sector has a central role to play in the UK’s challenge to become net zero by 2050, and our members have a series of tools at their disposal to contribute to this aim.

To reach net zero, every sector needs to examine their regular practices, and establish more sustainable forms of working. The employment support sector is no different, but through its work it can also facilitate the greening of a wider number of other industries, and help prepare the UK workforce for the transition to a net zero economy. It has a key part to play in translating the promises of political leaders into detailed reality.

Specialist Providers

The employment support sector encompasses a huge range of specialist providers delivering skills provision, employability programmes, and in-work support, among a myriad of other services. They deliver services to people at every stage of their employability journey, from those ready and able to start work, to those already in work and seeking to progress towards new roles.

Job Search leading to Green Jobs

Through the establishment of an ongoing dialogue with both commissioners of employability provision and employers themselves, the sector can help to facilitate the road to net zero by prioritising job search and employability schemes that lead jobseekers into Green Jobs.

Skills Training leading to Green Jobs

Skills training providers within the sector can also do their own part, by developing new pathways that can equip individuals with the skills and training that will enable them to thrive within such roles. Through the formation of such programmes, the employment support sector can play a vital role in helping workers better exploit the new roles and opportunities that technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen and bioenergy can bring.


Examples of policymakers, employability providers, and employers working together in such a joined-up manner can already be found within other nations. In Germany, for example, a “Coal Commission” was created in 2018 to identify those roles that would be most impacted by the phasing out of coal-fired power stations by 2038, and how new Green Jobs could be created in alternative energy industries such as green hydrogen. Providers and employers then worked together to identify the relevant individuals most suitable for these roles.

Net Jobs in Net Zero

We would urge the UK Government to learn from such examples, and to strengthen the links between commissioners, providers, and employers to better plan for and exploit the strategic employment opportunities that the road to net zero can provide. It is a regrettably unavoidable fact that travelling down this road will eliminate some existing roles within some industries, as Green Jobs are created in others: by working together, the Government, employers, providers, and workers can help to ease this transition.

Whitehall-Wide Coordination

The government has created a Green Jobs Taskforce between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and the Department for Education. This is a welcome move. Going forward, however, the Department for Work and Pensions - the department responsible for job search and back to work schemes for unemployed people – should also be part of the GJT to ensure unemployed adults can be signposted to green jobs.

Recommendation 1

Commissioners of employability provision should prioritise and incentivise the facilitation of Green Jobs into future strategies. They can play a key role in keeping the transition to net zero on the agenda of employment support providers, through both prioritising the net zero agenda and incentivising provider’s own efforts in this area.

Recommendation 2

Employment support providers should seize the opportunity to embed a focus on Green Jobs into their programmes and services. Providers should work in tandem with the sectors that they interact with to find ambitious and creative routes to link jobseekers with Green Jobs, emphasising the clear business case for doing so to employers.

Recommendation 3

Skills training providers should place a greater focus on providing participants with the skills needed for Green Jobs. Ensuring that the right skills and training is available to properly equip individuals for Green Jobs and the transition to a low-carbon economy is of paramount importance. Ongoing in-work support and progression is also critical, as new roles are created and new opportunities emerge as we progress closer and closer to 2050.

Calum Carson, Labour Market and Policy Research Officer, ERSA

Racing to Net Zero - the role of post-16 education and skills

The UK needs comprehensive jobs and skills plan to successfully support and drive the transition to Net Zero.  

This is the conclusion of Campaign for Learning on publishing a new collection of expert views - Racing to Net Zero - the role of post-16 education and skills,

This pamphlet brings together experts on Net Zero and post-16 education, skills and employment policy. The sixteen contributors offer real insights about how post-16 education and skills policy can support the race to Net Zero here in the UK.

Contributors to Racing to Net Zero:

Shaun Spiers, Green AllianceGreening the Economy, Greening the Environment
Stephen Evans, Learning and Work InstituteA more ambitious Net Zero ‘Economic, Jobs and Skills’ Plan
Paul Nowak, TUCWorkers, Skills and the Net Zero Economy
Duncan Brown, EmsiThe Demand for Green Jobs and Green Skills
Ewart Keep, University of OxfordLabour Market Intelligence for Green Jobs and Green Skills
Jane Hickie, AELPFilling Green Jobs with Level 2+ Apprenticeships
Calum Carson, ERSAFilling Green Jobs through Employment Support Schemes
David Hughes, Association of CollegesFE Colleges, Upskilling, Reskilling and Net Zero
Susan Pember, HOLEXAdult and Community Education and Net Zero
Nick Hillman, HEPIUniversities and Net Zero
Bill Watkin, Six Form Colleges Association16-18 Education and Net Zero
John Widdowson, Former FE Principal16-18 Level 3 T Levels and Net Zero
Rebecca Conway, Federation of Awarding BodiesNet Zero and the ‘Level 3 and Below’ Curriculum
Charlotte Bonner, Education and Training FoundationEducation for Sustainable Development and the FE Workforce
Adrian Anderson, UVACGreen Jobs, Apprenticeships and Higher Technical Education
Victoria Hands and Stephen Peake, The Open UniversityEducation for Sustainable Development in Higher Education

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