From education to employment

Welsh college creates senior sustainability role to support environmental drive


A college in the South Wales valleys has become the first in the country to create a dedicated sustainability role as part of a wider strategy to improve its green credentials.

Coleg yCymoedd, which serves learners across the boroughs of Rhondda and Caerphilly, has appointed Rachel Edmonds-Naish as its new Assistant Principal for Sustainable Futures – the first senior leadership position of this type in a Welsh further education college.

The unique job will see her implement a range of initiatives and policies designed to reduce the college’s carbon footprint and support learners to make more responsible and sustainable choices.

Rachel joins Coleg y Cymoedd following more than a decade of experience working in FE education, starting off as a lecturer at Coleg Gwent before moving into management roles and a Head of Curriculum for STEM position at Bridgend College.

With a strong interest in the green agenda, and decarbonisation of the built environment in particular, Rachel co-chairs the Net Zero Wales Skills Economies Advisory Forum where she supports stakeholder engagement for the Welsh Government’s Net Zero Skills Action Plan.

Her new role will see her focus on two key areas of sustainability – providing carbon literacy learning to staff and students to support them to live and work in environmentally friendly ways, and secondly, ensuring learners leave college equipped with the transferable skills and a sustainable mindset that employers are looking for alongside qualifications.

Rachel Edmonds-Naish said: “I’m really excited to take on this new challenge at Coleg y Cymoedd. I’ve long been passionate about the green agenda and decarbonisation so I’m looking forward to taking on a position where I can help to support these areas.

“We are currently working on a detailed action plan to supercharge the college’s sustainability including implementing environmental initiatives and changes to the curriculum that will help educate learners and staff, and lead to behavioural changes.

“We know that having an awareness of sustainability is also very important to many of the employers and partners that we work with.”

Rachel’s appointment comes as part of a wider sustainability drive at Coleg y Cymoedd which has included a move to adopt Ecosia – a green eco-friendly browser – as the default search engine usedby learners and staff on computers across all campuses.

Coleg y Cymoedd is the only FE college in Wales to have made the switchand it is now calling on other education providers to follow suit.

Speaking about the change, Rachel added: “With over 9,000 staff and learners at Coleg y Cymoedd, small changes have the potential to make a huge difference in tackling climate change.

“Setting Ecosia as the default search engine at the college is a simple change – one that costs nothing but one that will have a real impact for the environment. It’s an easy, everyday action that can get learners thinking about the effects of their actions on a day-to-day basis while helping to make a positive difference for the planet.”

Looking ahead, Rachel is working to create a sustainability agenda and implement a range of policies designed to get learners to think about how they use resources and behave on a day to day to basis, inspiring them to make more responsible and sustainable choices.

The college has also just become a member of Cynnal Cymru, an organisation which provides advice, training and connections to businesses and public sector organisations to help them turn sustainability aims into action. As a member, Coleg y Cymoedd will have access to specialist support from an expert team including a sustainability health check and review of its environmental policies, guidance on how to start an environmental management system as well as introductions to key contacts.

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