From education to employment

Sector-Based Work Academy Programme (SWAP): a new approach to addressing the green skills gap

Liz Lake Exclusive

As a Further Education college, one of our key priorities is aligning the training we provide with the evolving needs of industry.

The Growing Importance of Green Skills

Green Skills is a rapidly growing sector, with many exciting job opportunities on offer both now and in the future. It is also a central theme of the Local Skills Improvement Plans, identified as a cross-cutting priority across all sectors.

Launching the Sector-Based Work Academy Programme (SWAP)

With this in mind, London South East Colleges has partnered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Quantum (an ITP), and Daikin (a green products manufacturer), to launch a pilot Sector-Based Work Academy Programme (SWAP).

Programme Details

This five-week programme is taking place in our Green Skills Lab, located at our College’s Bromley Campus. 20 learners (over the age of 18) have been recruited to take part by the DWP and it is funded via the Local London Mayor’s Skills Academy Green Hub initiative.

Objectives and Challenges

The key objective of this initiative is to help people access jobs in industries that are not only facing skills shortages, but which are offering fulfilling career pathways to a wide range of people including those who are unemployed and economically inactive.

One of the many difficulties in attracting people to the green industries simply comes down to lack of awareness and knowledge. Not only in terms of having the right skills, but just not knowing that the sector and indeed the types of jobs, even exist.

Aligning Provision with Industry Needs

We work with many employers across a range of industries who are struggling to recruit – and are doing our utmost to align our provision, courses and qualifications with the needs of industry.

Programme Benefits and Opportunities

Through this new SWAP, we will get a better understanding of the appetite for these short, sector-based courses and the value of them in terms of helping people to access great jobs.

The course will provide a blend of employability and green skills training. Each learner will have the opportunity to gain a Level 1 Health and Safety during the course, alongside a Level 2 City & Guilds accredited sustainable energy and renewable technologies qualification. Learners will also be able to gain a CSCS card, facilitating their entry into the industry.

Crucially, through our partnership with Daikin and Quantum, everyone on this course will get a guaranteed interview, with the view to securing employment at one of these two companies. This reflects the genuine commitment and aim of this programme to support people into work.

The Importance of Employer Engagement

As a College, we know how important it is for people to have access to employers and work experience opportunities. This is not always easy and we are constantly looking at new and creative ways to expose learners to the real world of work.

Adapting to Changing Needs

The world is changing and so are the needs of industry and employers. Colleges need to adjust to this, with new ways of working and careful thought as to how we can effectively engage with one another to achieve tangible results and impact.

Future Plans and Collaborations

We are hoping this SWAP will be the pre-cursor for a Green Construction Skills Bootcamp, for which we have applied to the GLA for funding. This would expand the training we are able to offer in our pioneering green skills lab, giving more people the opportunity to purse successful careers in the green industries.

Not everything we try will work, but we need to think differently and more widely when working with industry to help solve their skills challenges. We would love to hear from other people in the sector working on similar issues. If you have good practice to share, which could help us develop what we are doing in this space, please comment below!

By Liz Lake, Group Director Strategic Projects and Partnerships, London South East Colleges

Related Articles