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Who’s got green skills?

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Liz ListerLiz Lister is a STEM Manager for Graphic Science, lead organisation for the STEM Ambassador Hub West England. In collaboration with the Careers Hub at the West of England Combined Authority, Graphic Science is working on a number of projects focussed on developing a greater awareness and understanding of green skills – what they are, why they are important and who needs them.

The huge climate challenges we are facing as a society are presenting us with the stark choice of adapt or die, and this is coming at us from many different directions. As a result of these challenges, unreformed carbon-intensive industries will inevitably wane resulting in not only lost jobs, but also lost opportunities for decent work and careers in these industries. What we replace these lost opportunities with is of critical importance, not least of all to our young people.

Preparing the future workforce

A young person who started secondary education in September 2022 will leave school in 2029. The following year, 2030, is the year that Bristol, and the West of England Combined Authority has set to become net zero. Are we confident that the young people in school now will be able to take on whatever challenges and opportunities net zero presents?wind turbines

We can’t be exact in our predictions of what entrepreneurship, trades and professions will look like in 2030 and beyond, but we can be sure that the people in them will need to be from diverse backgrounds, well-informed as to the need for change, and well-prepared to deliver the change. The ability to bring about the change necessary for a target like net zero is one aspect of what we mean when we talk about green skills, and business should be taking the lead in raising awareness of the value of green skills to the economy.

Bringing education and business closer together

One of the projects I work on which is focused on this issue is the Teacher Encounters project. This project aims to bring education and business closer together in order to enable teachers to deliver relevant careers education in the classroom, for all young people.

Businesses in the area can get involved in the Teacher Encounters project during the first half of 2023. The project is a partnership between the business and a local education setting and works like an exchange – the teachers will visit you in your workplace, and you will visit the teachers in theirs.

Students learning about solar

Credit Jessica Reeder / BlackRockSolar

Prior to the exchange visits, businesses will help co-develop a toolkit to facilitate the encounters, with particular emphasis on the issues of green skills and of diversity. This process will ensure that encounters fit the needs of all participants and have a structure which allows participants to really see the big issues faced by employers and educators today.

The visits themselves will take place in the spring and summer of 2023, and will finish with a feedback session that will act as a catalyst for future engagement.

The business commitment is time. Time for teachers to visit you and get to know what you do and how you do it, and time for your employees to help prepare the visits, go into school, observe classroom teaching, work with students and give feedback on their experience.

The business commitment is also to the future, to endeavour to maintain the relationship with the school throughout the year and beyond, and look for further opportunities to build on that relationship for the ultimate benefit of young people, and the planet.

Work is already playing a critical role in our transition to a low-carbon economy. Maintaining this momentum will depend on us all developing our understanding of green skills.

For information on how to get your business involved with the Teacher Encounters project in the region, email liz@graphicscience.co.uk. You can also follow the STEM Ambassador hub’s activities on Twitter @AmbassadorGS.

 

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