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Master’s-level sustainability apprenticeship is first of its kind in the UK

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Cranfield University (@CranfieldUni) is launching a new sustainability masters-level apprenticeship which will be among the first of its kind in the UK to be available via the Apprenticeship Levy. 

The programme will launch at a time of increased global commitment to a post-COVID recovery that maps economic investments for new jobs to the ambitions of a low carbon and sustainable future. It is also timely given the UK will play host to COP26 in November, where the world’s leaders will come together to reaffirm their commitments to CO2 reduction and ambition for a green and more inclusive economy.

The programme is being launched at a time of considerable growth in the sustainability sector, with increased opportunities at various management levels as companies increasingly recognise the importance of sustainability.

  • A recent report from executive search firm, Russell Reynolds, showed a ten-fold increase in the use of sustainability in the role or candidate description of senior board and executive roles.
  • In June this year, the professional services firm PwC, announced it would be creating 100,000 jobs globally focused on environmental, social and corporate governance over the next five years.
  • The UK is seen as a global leader in sustainability jobs. In 2020, LinkedIn reported a 12% growth in sustainability professionals, double the global average.

The new apprenticeship programme is linked to the new Sustainable Business Specialist Apprenticeship Standard. Those that complete the programme will receive a Sustainability MSc.

The programme has been developed by leading academics from across Cranfield School of Management and Cranfield Environment and Agrifood, coupling the University’s business and technical outlook.

Dr Rosina Watson, Senior Lecturer in Sustainability at Cranfield School of Management, said: “The role of the sustainability professional is changing. No longer are we seeing one person as the sustainability professional in an organisation. We are seeing sustainability departments with board level leads and attempts to engrain sustainable business thinking into all employees. 

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“The growth in sustainability jobs has been phenomenal and it is only going to grow further as organisations adapt their business models to attract increasingly ethical and environmentally conscious consumers. This apprenticeship and accompanying Master’s degree will create the next generation of sustainability leaders ready to take on the most pressing challenges we face across the globe.”

Dr Kenisha Garnett, Lecturer in Decision Science at Cranfield School of Water, Energy and Environment, said: “With the eyes of the world on the UK ahead of COP26, sustainability is at the forefront of the minds of government and business. We hear a lot about the technological gains we need to achieve net zero but equally important are the skills that we will need to get there. We stand on the edge of an explosion in green jobs as sectors such as the energy, aviation and construction industries rapidly transition to a more sustainable and resilient future.”

Sarah Mukherjee MBE, Chief Executive of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), said: “The transition to a net-zero and a sustainable future will require all businesses to play their part. Sustainability skills are the key enabler that will ensure companies can maximise the opportunities and minimise the risks.  The Sustainability MSc Apprenticeship is a great way to blend practical experience with part-time study, allowing people to enhance their effectiveness while delivering business improvements.”

Emma Piercy, head of Climate Change & Energy Policy at the Food and Drink Federation said: “As COP26 approaches, and in the light of the recent sobering IPCC report, the need to support businesses with their efforts to create and implement holistic sustainability strategies has never been more evident. The launch of this Apprenticeship is a welcome step towards creating the well-rounded individuals, with both technical and leadership skills, that are needed to do just that.”

Mike Barry, Director, Mikebarryeco Consultancy and formerly of M&S said: “Tackling the climate crisis requires every business to put sustainability at the heart of all it does, from Boardroom, to shopfloor, product development to supply chain management, finance to marketing. We need everyone in an organisation to be climate literate which is why this new course is so very important.”
Matching the sustainable nature of the course content, the course will be delivered almost wholly online with a three-day ‘Spring School’ being held at Cranfield each year.

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