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Professor Ewart Keep, emeritus professor in Education, Training and Skills at the Department of Education, Oxford University
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Joint DBEIS and DfE Green Jobs Taskforce 

Given the importance attached by the UK Government to achieving Net Zero, the consequent employment and skills needs are rising up the policy agenda. Whitehall has responded by establishing a joint Department for Energy and Industrial Strategy and Department for Education Green Jobs Taskforce (GJT). A report is expected hopefully at some point in June. This will set out high level skills and employment projections, and a roadmap for action from sectors, employers and education and training providers.

Coherent and effective responses from providers to these relatively high-level projections will require further work. We will need more detailed projections and timelines from individual sectors and industries that can accommodate the fact that some types of green job (e.g those associated with offshore wind and the de-carbonisation of large industrial clusters like Teesside) will be concentrated in particular locations.

The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), which represent the firms that build power stations, factories and pipelines, has already created a model report for their sector (see Towards Net Zero: The implications of the transition to net zero for the Engineering Construction Industry).

Other sectors need to deliver equally coherent and detailed forecasts of what will be needed, by when and where.

Green Skills for New Jobs and Existing Jobs

A key point that is already emerging from existing forecasts about green skills is that while a lot of media attention is focused on entirely new occupations and skill sets, many of the skill requirements will be met by re-training or upskilling the existing adult workforce. Green skills are not just about new jobs and new entrants to the labour market. Both changing skill requirements within existing jobs and entirely new occupations are likely to occur on a relatively large scale. Knowing what skills, at what levels and where in the country they will be needed is essential to crafting an effective response.

Training and Retraining

The garage trade is one example. Some mechanics will need to acquire new skills to be able to service electric vehicles. Others will need to re-train for another occupation, as electric vehicles will require less frequent and complex servicing than internal combustion drive systems currently demand.

Plumbers will need to learn about heat pumps and gas engineers may be required (depending on how widely it is adopted) about hydrogen and mixed fuel boiler installation and servicing.

Granular Labour Market Intelligence

These kinds of re- and upskilling demands require detailed monitoring and the generation of granular Labour Market Intelligence (LMI). If employers, professional bodies and sectoral organisations cannot provide the required information in a timely manner, skill shortages may well ensue.

Transmitting Labour Market Intelligence

Having generated the required LMI, there will be a need to ensure that it is transmitted to all those who need to use it to make plans – IfATE, universities, colleges and private training providers, professional bodies, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Mayoral Combined Authorities, and awarding bodies. Given that we have more of a skills marketplace than a system in England, and a very fragmented one at that, the question of who will take the lead in coordinating the dissemination of LMI and ensuring that a coherent response emerges, is at this stage unclear.

Yet LMI will only be of use if it enables providers and the policy and funding infrastructure that supports them to make sound forward plans and strategic investment decisions, thereby delivering the new staff and new teaching facilities, new qualifications and micro-credentials that will be needed.

Careers Information, Advice and Guidance

On the other side of the equation – student demand – it will be vital that LMI on green skills feeds into coherent careers information, advice and guidance (CIAG), for both young people and for adults. If people are unaware of the opportunities that are going to be emerging, they will not seek to acquire the skills that will be needed.

It is also the case that many of the new and changing occupational requirements driven by Net Zero will be in occupations and industries that currently suffer major problems with workforce diversity. High quality CIAG can help to start to change this.

Level 4+ Green Skills

Many of the skills needed will be at a relatively high level (level 4 and above) and therefore relatively expensive to provide. As a consequence, coordination between and specialisation amongst providers will be required, as not every provider will be able to afford to tool up to deliver everything.

Recommendation 1

Sectoral and professional bodies need to deliver to providers detailed forecasts of future skill need and to monitor the development of these demands as they evolve.

Recommendation 2

LMI needs to feed through into high quality CIAG for young people and adults that can help ensure that individuals are aware of the new employment opportunities that moves to net zero are creating.

Recommendation 3

There needs to be oversight and coordination of the education and training response to green skills, so that investment decisions and forward planning can provide a joined-up and coherent pattern of provision that meets needs and avoids major skill shortages.

Professor Ewart Keep, emeritus professor in Education, Training and Skills at the Department of Education, Oxford University

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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