City Voices: A City & Guilds Podcast

Great Jobs Podcast Episode 2: Powering the Levelling Up agenda with Green Skills

May 17, 2022 City & Guilds Season 1 Episode 2
Great Jobs Podcast Episode 2: Powering the Levelling Up agenda with Green Skills
City Voices: A City & Guilds Podcast
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City Voices: A City & Guilds Podcast
Great Jobs Podcast Episode 2: Powering the Levelling Up agenda with Green Skills
May 17, 2022 Season 1 Episode 2
City & Guilds

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Welcome to City & Guilds’ Great Jobs podcast series, hosted by Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds. A monthly podcast in which she dives into some of the issues raised in our research report of the same name, produced in collaboration with economic modellers
Emsi Burning Glass.

The research found that despite key workers seeing the nation through the pandemic, the UK’s most vital industries are being threatened by growing skills shortages, as poor reputations and concerns about low pay turn off potential new recruits.

This episode looks at Green Skills and the role they can play not only in creating a sustainable future, but also powering the ambitious Levelling Up agenda set out by the government.

In this episode Kirstie is joined by: 

For further information about the material quoted in this episode visit:

To hear more insights on the essential jobs that keep the UK moving, healthy and working, you can subscribe to the podcast.

Listeners may also be interested in a podcast series by the City & Guilds Foundation.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Welcome to City & Guilds’ Great Jobs podcast series, hosted by Kirstie Donnelly MBE, CEO of City & Guilds. A monthly podcast in which she dives into some of the issues raised in our research report of the same name, produced in collaboration with economic modellers
Emsi Burning Glass.

The research found that despite key workers seeing the nation through the pandemic, the UK’s most vital industries are being threatened by growing skills shortages, as poor reputations and concerns about low pay turn off potential new recruits.

This episode looks at Green Skills and the role they can play not only in creating a sustainable future, but also powering the ambitious Levelling Up agenda set out by the government.

In this episode Kirstie is joined by: 

For further information about the material quoted in this episode visit:

To hear more insights on the essential jobs that keep the UK moving, healthy and working, you can subscribe to the podcast.

Listeners may also be interested in a podcast series by the City & Guilds Foundation.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  0:12  
Hello everybody and welcome once again to City & Guilds Great Jobs podcast, where every month we're going to be exploring some of the issues that were highlighted in our great jobs report. essentially looking at the skill shortages impacting many of the essential industries in the UK. I'm Kirstie Donnelly only your host, the CEO of City & Guilds and in today's episode, we'll be looking at the very hot topic of green skills and the role they can play not only in creating a sustainable future, but also powering that ambitious levelling up agenda set out by the government. To today I'm joined by

Lizzie Lyons  0:57  
Lizzie Lyons, Head of Skills Delivery at Business West,

Rebecca Durber  1:00  
Rebecca Durber, Director of Public Affairs at AELP

Venetia Knight  1:04  
Venetia, Knight Head of Employment and Enterprise at Grammar Greater Manchester.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  1:08  
Brilliant, thank you, we've got great guests that we're going to be having this podcast with today. And levelling up, of course, is a phrase we've all now become very familiar with.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  1:27  
But what does it really mean? It certainly mean in the context of skills and in the topic we're talking about today, green skill, so I'm just gonna provide a little bit of context on why they need to level up the country and what the government is hoping to achieve. Of course, one of the key goals with levelling up agenda is to improve economic equality across the country, reducing unemployment and increasing access to good jobs and higher wages. But with employment rates varying from as much as 90% in East Cambridgeshire to 61%, in Gosport on the south coast of Hampshire, two workers living in Blackpool, earning less than half the average earnings of those staying in Kensington and Chelsea, it's clear our geographic inequalities need to be addressed. However, ensuring access to skills training, particularly in deprived areas has got to be a key component to achieving these goals. We simply cannot level up without proper investment in skills, there is stark disparities between levels of qualifications people hold across the country. For example, people living in the West Midlands are twice as likely to have no qualifications as those in London, whereas Londoners are almost 50% more likely to hold a level four or above qualification. Alongside these priorities, the government has made commitments to reduce the country's carbon footprint, aiming for net zero by 2050. That means that there will be a need to transition to more renewable technologies and grow our green industry, which of course for skills means a whole raft of new green skills will need to be acquired, which in turn means the need to invest in skills for a local job market, we will need to train or retrain even millions of people in the coming years to help us reach that net zero in the UK, from the gas engineers who will need to instal hydrogen powered boilers in the future to the experts needed to build design and run new lower carbon power stations, mass rapid transit systems, and to refit older buildings to make them more energy efficient. These are highly paid and highly skilled careers, but they are often in sectors that are traditionally white and male dominated such as energy, transport and construction. It therefore needs to be a priority that we promote roles and opportunities in these areas to underrepresented groups, and to invest in the training needed to help people gain the skills required. New research we're launching at the end of this month shows that currently only a tiny fraction of the UK electricians, for example, are trained already to deliver the charging infrastructure that is needed to support the switch to electrical vehicle charging at the current rate of installation, just 77,000 charging points will be installed by 2030 to fall short of the 325,000 that are expected to be needed. So that's why in today's podcast, we want to focus on how achieving the goals of levelling up through skills acquisition and supporting the transition to a green economy goes hand in hand. And ultimately, we need to be equipping people with the brain skills needed to achieve these goals.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  4:41  
So I'm going to come back now to my guests and ask each of them just in a minute or so to just tell the audience in a nutshell, what you're doing in your organisation to promote and support the adoption of green skills. Lizzie, let's come to you first.

Lizzie Lyons  4:56  
Lovely Thank you very much. Yes. So this is something that is very close. At the heart at Business West, we've been a B Corp for over a year now and supporting other businesses to do the same. So we have a net zero team at Business West that has been holding webinars and other events, just to really raise that general awareness around climate change. And from that, what we're recognising is that there are so many SMEs that are keen to take action, but they don't really know where to start and what approach to take. So we at Business West support businesses, not only to understand their carbon footprint and what their business, their business and operations, but also look at what skills are going to be needed in the future. So we are one of a number of partners delivering a programme called 'Workforce of the Future' on behalf of the West of England combined to authority. And we support businesses to identify and prepare their future workforce and their work work future workforce needs. And the large part of that looks at Green skills in some shape or form. As part of that programme, as well. There are other delivery partners that are looking at skills for clean growth, and businesses who were looking at modern methods of construction, which I know we might touch upon later on. So there's a lot that we're doing to support businesses, but I think a lot of that is raising the awareness of the challenge in the first place, and then looking at what we can do to address that challenge.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  6:17  
Oh, thanks very much, Lizzie. We'll come back to some of those challenges. Surely, I'm sure so, Venetia, maybe you could tell us a little bit about your organisation.

Venetia Knight  6:25  
So Groundwork has been the delivering sort of green skills training for more than 40 years with a particular focus on the natural environment, which is where we've traditionally occupied. But we recognise that the development of skills needed for the current and growing sectors of the green economy. But all jobs will need to change to factor in more sustainable choices and behaviours. So everyone in the workforce is going to have to have some level of sustainability education to fulfil their role in the future. So we've made the decision that we needed to introduce training for all learners in our employment and skills provision to improve their climate awareness, work related environmental knowledge. So we've been doing things like we've designed and now deliver a carbon literacy training course for all learners aged 16 Plus in our pre recruitment, personal development, or employability courses. So we're building awareness of common carbon reduction practices in the workplace, we've been putting in place things like low carbon careers called pre recruitment courses, where we're supporting young people who wants to secure jobs in the green economy, as well as setting up our construction training hub, in Forest Bank, which more of later I think. And then another sort of factor that we think is really important is the careers advice really need to understand the skills and opportunities that are available now and in the future within the green economy. So at the moment, we're working with Manchester City Council working skills team to provide support training and resources to raise awareness of these this sort of subject area for careers, Leeds and Manchester schools and colleges. And I think that this is going to become increasingly important that everybody really understand what's going on in this part of the economy.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  8:02  
No, I think that's absolutely right. And we'll definitely come back to the careers advice angle as well, which I think it's a common theme throughout all of our podcasts. Thank you very much Venetia. So, Rebecca, over to you.

Rebecca Durber  8:14  
Thanks very much, Kirstie. And firstly, it's been great to work with City & Guilds quite a lot on some of our work around the greens skills agenda, we held our first Evergreen Skills summit back in February. And this was really open to the entire FE sector, we've really recognised as the trade body that represents predominantly independent training providers, but work based learning providers that this is an agenda that's moving forward at pace with all of the net zero ambitions. And we really just wanted to bring the sector together to talk about their role in the transition to net zero and the green economy, different opportunities and challenges and what we need to do to take this forward, I think it's safe to say that FE providers know that it's a really important agenda. But currently, the supply and demand is not really there. In terms of learners and employers. It's not where it's going to be in future years. And we recognise that there's still huge need to upskill the FE workforce itself, nevermind the wider workforce. So that's going to probably come on to that a little bit later. But we don't want the event to sort of sit in silos. It's going to be a continuing theme in all of our events that are offered to members. For example, we've got a really interesting webinar coming up with the ETF on sustainability in the next couple of weeks. And also following our Green Skills Summit. We're now putting together a Green Skills group to take this work forward. And some of the central themes of that are going to be programmes and curriculum, careers information, advice and guidance, the FE workforce development, and also asks of government in terms of what the sector needs to take it forward. And one of the things that came out of the conference was the really interesting idea that sustainability should be seen as the fourth Functional Skill and embedded into core learning in the same way as English, maths and digital. So yes, just in a nutshell, it's something that we recognise as a really important edge. And moving forward. So we want to do as much as we can to support our members and the wider FE sector in their role in around Net Zero.

Thanks very much, Rebecca. And really interesting, you know, to hear you sort of classify it as that really fourth Functional Skill and very much ties in, I think to what Venetia was saying as well about how much you know, green and this whole agenda around understanding appreciating what's needed to achieve Net Zero has to be built into the curriculum right from the onset. And of course, we all know that we've not got the best reputations in this country, it forward planning, and as you say, matching the supply and the demand and then building the curriculum at the point in time we need it. But this is one agenda where we, we just have to try and get this right.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  10:49  
So let's come now into into more of the conversation around the challenges and some of the work that you're all doing to address them. So Lizzie, I'm going to come to you if I may analysis by Acuity found that the West of England region to meet net zero by 2030, I think it's close to 50,000 new jobs would be required. And over half of those jobs are in construction and installation. So what's already happening then in the West of England in terms of planning for this recruitment and training of these individuals.

Lizzie Lyons  11:20  
Yeah, thank you. So I know that the report that you're referring to, and it has some really interesting insights and facts about the state of the current workforce and what needs to happen going forward. I think another aspect was that it would take around 557 years to instal the required solid wall installation going on current supply. So there is a real challenge there. It's something that is definitely on the agenda. And in terms of the number of jobs as well, that this you know, we see it as a challenge. But actually, it's a real opportunity, because this is a real opportunity to create some jobs to help with that levelling up agenda, and to provide accessible training and retraining as well. I think that the one key aspect in all of this is to make sure that businesses of all sizes recognise the challenges that are ahead, and the emerging skills needs that are coming through because there needs to be that that regular communication, not just between the businesses and the training providers in education, but also between some of the larger employers and their supply chains, because there needs to be that robust system in place to, to really take the industry forward. So we're quite lucky, in the West of England, we have a really good Institute of Technology. It's one of the 12 National Institutes and supports employers to develop higher level skills and train employees for those jobs of tomorrow. So those are emerging jobs that are coming through. And in doing so they design and deliver a lot of flexible technical training as well. That will enable people to really participate and contribute to the economic growth of the region. As we mentioned, in terms of, you know, levelling up that flexible training, that accessible training is really key. We have some college construction centres and specialty centres in the West of England, a number of colleges are providing some really great delivery, but it's making sure that that is going to be in line with what's coming through. So those emerging green skills, that is really key. We've also looking at that using the national funding for skills, boot camps, I think these are a really great opportunity to live a trip training in green skills, through the 16 week skills, boot camps. We've also got a number of independent programmes that the some of the universities are running, so the University of the West of England are running a Green Skills for jobs and entrepreneurship programme, which is partnership with UE the University of the West of England, and that West Bank and the Black Southwest network. So that's funded through the government's Community Renewal Fund, and things like that, really helping to push forward and drive forward some of that flexible and accessible training to help move this forward.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  14:06  
Well, actually, just just let's stick on that theme. Lizzie, thank you for that very comprehensive and it sounds like put words in your mouth a little bit. But sounds like you're feeling relatively optimistic. Despite that, that very large number of years that you quoted earlier on about what it's looking like now that trajectory if we were to meet it, it sounds like you feel quite optimistic about all of the various programmes and initiatives that are in play in the West of England to at least start to address which is good.

You know, we've touched there on how much more we could do and employers should and could be doing to try and attract and train underrepresented groups. I mean, one of the things are Great Jobs research threw up it shone a light on a known fact nationally, that there were a million people probably even over a million people currently who are working age could be in the workforce, but are choosing not to be? So what is it that we need to do to do get better at attracting people back into these jobs?

Lizzie Lyons  15:10  
Yeah, absolutely. I think that's drawing on, you know, the big recruitment challenge that is facing every single industry at the moment. And I think, you know, when we're looking at retraining, I think it's making sure that, you know, when we're looking at these green skills we are offering training that is accessible is attractive, is valued, as is relevant to industry as well. But also, you know, when we're looking at the jobs, looking at how, you know, specific job design, flexibility, you know, I think that there's, there's a lot of key elements that have come through in the past couple of years, that we need to take through, not just with the emerging skills, but that the way the jobs are designed, as well. And I think that's going to be really key in terms of attracting people back into the market. And I know that, you know, we looked at construction, in particular, in this case, but there are so many other sectors that are going to be impacted by these new green skills coming through, you know the automotive sector, for one, you know, that's going to be hugely impacted. And I think that designing training in a way that is attractive and valuable to people who may have been in the industry already for 2030 years is going to be really key here.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  16:35  
Gonna bring Rebecca in now, because I think it segues way back into this notion of the fourth skill that that there's literally not a single industry or sector that won't be untouched by this right. So it does become an essential skills. So from your perspective and AELP's perspective, Rebecca hat, how should government and businesses and the government policy working with business really start to try and reflect? And I know, it's already been doing that and Lizzie's already mentioned, use of things like boot camps, etc. But there's a lot of initiatives out there. How does government policy need to reflect the opportunity to make this a fourth skill? But then how do we make it more understandable, especially for small businesses to be able to access what is available to help them start to get ready for this?

Rebecca Durber  17:21  
Yeah. I mean, jobs are going to change significantly, as we transition as we transition, there's going to be 2 million new green jobs by 2030, which I think is really exciting. But we can't miss out the fact that there's going to be a number of jobs that are going to be changed, they're going to phase out. And I think some people can see this as the sort of green agenda being a real threat to what they do and a real threat to their livelihood. So I think that access to decent careers, information, advice and guidance, whether you're a young person looking to get into the labour market, whether you're an adult already in the labour market whose job might change, I think that's really key to it all. I think green as well doesn't necessarily resonate with people. So I think being more specific about the types of job role needed and the sort of plethora of things that are out there, we always sort of go back to construction, decarbonisation and retrofitting, but it is, you know, it can be across the whole economy. And I think there's lots of different opportunities out there at the moment, we've already seen green skills boot camps. We know a lot of the combined authorities are really prioritising green and using sufficient flex and the adult education budget to sort of meet those priorities. And of course, we know that local skills improvement plans now that are rolling out needs to pay due regard to meeting net zero. So I think it is crucial that everyone thinks about green in terms of building into that development of our sips and ensuring that all residents can access green jobs and know what they are as well. Yeah. And I think for smaller businesses, they don't necessarily know about all of the different opportunities that they have. I think people know about apprenticeships, but they don't necessarily know about other things like traineeships like skills, boot camps, like different work programmes. And I think they can all be really, really useful in terms of it. And there's obviously quite a few incentives that are involved in that. And I think the number of people that we're going to be needing to get through the system, whether it's, you know, young people that are really starting out in their careers, or people that are looking to rescale and retrain, I think the government really are going to need to consider whether they need to put in some sort of incentive, whether that's for businesses, or whether that's for the learners themselves, in terms of training or retraining in the green in the green skills economy.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  19:26  
And do you think Rebecca, I mean, absolutely. Right. I would completely agree with you. But do you actually think things like boot camps? I mean, we've heard a little bit from Lizzie room to go that sounds like this. They're working or they're having an impact. Do you think some of the more recent initiatives are positively having an impact? And do you think, you know, certainly, when you think about the small and medium size organisation, do you think they know how and what to access these initiatives to help them?

Rebecca Durber  19:50  
I think the outcomes often speak for themselves. So for example, on traineeships we know they have a really, really high rate of getting people into good work or getting paid belong to the next programme. And likewise, skills boot camps have really fantastic outcomes. However, I just think there are so many competing programmes out there at the moment, we've had everything from the Plan for Jobs, we've got a whole load of competing programmes across DFE. DWP is a very sort of siloed departments. And I think, often if you're either a learner or you're someone in a small business, you don't necessarily know how to navigate the system and know what's best for you, or what's best for your workforce. So I think we need to be doing something in terms of simplifying the system, but also trying to get all these different government departments on the same page as each other and making sure that we've got programmes that complement each other rather than competing, because I think there is so much out there at the moment, which is a real opportunity. But it's also it's just such a challenge to navigate, especially if you're if you're a sort of smaller business. So I think we need to do a lot more to try and get them involved in workplace learning and to know what's right for them.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  20:59  
No, I think that's absolutely right. We're back to that theme. Really, again, another generic theme, but applies well here, which is about how do we get government joined up thinking and then how that connects in with the supply and industry. So thanks very much, Rebecca.

So Venetia, if I can come to you now, if I may and talk about what you talked a little bit about the work that Groundwork already do across the UK to help equip people, especially people who face barriers to the workplace get into work by attaining green skills, and fascinating to hear about that work, you're already doing very early on and embedding that in the curriculum. But I know that one of the things that you focus on is actually supporting people who are more disadvantaged from the labour market, for example, ex offenders, in fact, we're working with yourselves with supporting ex offenders into work in this area. So can you say a little bit more than about how those sort of community focused projects that that you're doing are actually a great way to try and to address this demand for green skills employers want?

Venetia Knight  22:06  
I mean, I think that that really that the opportunity that this this sort of transition to a low carbon economy means is that that, that the jobs and skills that are good are going to be needed everywhere. So they're not going to be sort of centred in certain places within the country, which often happens within skills initiatives. But particularly the need those skills are going to be needed in areas of the UK facing higher levels of disadvantage. So as an example, sort of an over sort of touched base on the construction industry and retrofit. But we really entered sort of, particularly areas in the north, we really need to grow workforce able to retrofit our housing stock, because it's a sort of major problem in terms of sort of lots of sort of energy leaking buildings that are really causing a problem with the sort of goals to sort of achieve net zero. So in Greater Manchester, the city region, goal is to be carbon neutral by 2038. So a research from GMCA identified that 62,000 homes will need to be retrofitted every year in Greater Manchester to be able to achieve that goal. So there's sort of upskilling and job opportunities for people coming into the construction industry to respond to that are huge. So, you know, and I sort of think as well, that we need to look at, consider where the opportunities to expand the green economy are in particularly disadvantaged areas across the north of England and north Wales. So there's things like sort of hydrogen production, renewable energy generation, which are quite likely to be major industries in the future. So for us that groundwork is sort of mobilising our community based training programmes to draw people in to those new opportunities. And for us, as an environmental organisation, there's sort of increasing recognition of the importance of the natural environment to support that sort of the climate and nature emergency sort of nature based solutions to climate change becoming increasingly well recognised as a sort of a solution to some of these problems. So I was just going to say a sort of another really interesting piece of research came out by the Green Alliance in 2021. And they identified that if we just sort of invest in three types of nature enhancements, woodland peatland restoration and urban parks, we could create more than 16,000 jobs in the 20% of constituencies with the most severe employment challenges. So this, you know, with with sort of good planning and investment, we can really make changes in the areas that need them the most.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  24:41  
Yeah, and it's fascinating to hear you make that link. I mean, you really have just made the case for how actually levelling up can be achieved. We need it achieved but actually, it can only be achieved if we also it's a chicken and egg if we actually make the right investment in skills and using it to skill people and therefore create good jobs as well, because it all becomes a virtuous circle.

I suppose what I was interested in in terms of your committee's programmes is how much interest you tend to find from the younger population versus sort of maybe older workers or people who are thinking of retraining Are you seeing are you seeing a stark difference from the point of view of age and even gender, for that matter, in terms of people are interested in coming on these programmes?

Venetia Knight  25:34  
I mean, there's definitely a lot more interest from young people around wanting to sort of work in in sort of jobs and in industries that make the maker sort of difference is sort of a positive contribution to the sort of climate emergency. But I think a lot of young people don't really realise what those opportunities are. So it's like when we've been, we've been quite involved with the Kickstart programme and created a lot of green jobs within Groundwork and our environmental sector partners, and young people were amazing, these sorts of organisations existed where they could be doing jobs, that that sort of aligned with their values. So that's been sort of quite interesting. But I think, generally, there's sort of people have a certain they have different levels of awareness. So I think it's when you start introducing a sort of, sort of that introductory education around sort of climate, climate awareness, climate, carbon literacy, it really you can sort of see people's views changing. So I think that it's we've got to get out there and get information to people is that is his real priority. And that's one of the things we've been doing in the prison to sort of include people from more disadvantaged areas of the labour market who've got fit, face a lot of barriers to work, that we provide them with that information and advice that they can add to that how they can get involved.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  26:59  
Absolutely, because it literally is potentially a job for everybody in this across this whole agenda isn't there and the you know, both in terms of its generic nature, but also in terms of the very different sectors that then require a green touch, or have their own net zero targets to meet to meet. So it's how do we actually say, get out there and really attract many, many people back into the labour market, who ordinarily have been much more disenfranchised from it, as well as, as we say, create opportunity for people to rescale and retrain from industries or jobs, where, you know, their skills are less relevant there that could be very transferable, with some retraining into a new role. But I think you've all touched on this important theme, that we have to get much better at making it translatable for people and helping people understand.

Well, it's been absolutely fantastic hearing about the great work that's going on from all of you today. I always think it's brilliant. When you leave a podcast wanting more, I think we could just talk about this issue all day, actually. But I think we've already raised and heard some of the common and core challenges as well as some of the unique ways in which each of you are tackling it through your own organisations. So what I'd like to do now and I always do on these podcasts is before we leave you is pose our special magic one question. So in 20 seconds or less, if you had a magic wand, and there was one thing you you could change to help people find the right work in green sustainable jobs. What would it be so Lizzie come to you first for your magic wand answer?

Lizzie Lyons  28:43  
This is where I have to speak really quickly, isn't it? So I think the core things for me are making the opportunities clear so that those learners coming through are aware of those opportunities available. On the other hand, I think it's also really important to help businesses and with certain programmes is really, really important that businesses understand the education landscape and how they can contribute to what has been developed. Because I don't think there is an endpoint to developing these skills. I think it's going to be a moveable feast. I think it's going to be something that needs to change rapidly along the way as new technologies come about. So I think having that flexibility in education is something that is vitally important. Brilliant, thanks, Lizzie. - Rebecca?

Rebecca Durber  29:23  
I'll quickly go through my top three. So firstly, high quality careers information, advice and guidance with parity between vocational and academic routes equally available to young people and adults in any area, making sure that the information about green jobs and why there are huge opportunity is relatable and accessible. Secondly, the FE workforce sufficiently upskill to actually deliver the green skills needed and linking that to business need. And then finally, the big one joins up approach from government across departments and sufficient funding in place to actually drive this agenda forward.

Kirstie Donnelly MBE  29:57  
Absolutely. Very well said and Venetia?

Why do we need to level up the country?
Supporting the adoption of green skills
How is the West of England planning to recruit and train individuals needed to meet the regions net zero target?
Attracting and training under-represented and disadvantaged groups
Challenges and opportunities facing the skills sector
Equipping people who face barriers to the workplace to get into work by attaining green skills
The demographic interest in Groundwork’s community-focused projects
Magical wand solutions to help people find work in green, sustainable jobs