Government's Net Zero Strategy
Yesterday, the Government published its Net Zero Strategy ahead of COP26, which begins at the end of the month. We welcome the publication of the strategy, which makes a number of commitments and promises from a skills perspective, in order to help achieve a greener future. However, it’s important that we see these plans being implemented; actions and outputs at pace and scale will be imperative.
Let’s break down the strategy and what it will mean for the future of education.
Introducing the strategy
The Prime Minister opens the strategy stating that “by moving first and making the United Kingdom the birthplace of the Green Industrial Revolution, we are building a defining competitive edge. Through our Ten Point Plan we have already attracted over £5.8 billion of new inward investment in just over ten months and will create and support hundreds of thousands of new high skilled, high wage green jobs”.
He then says that by 2050, there will be “good jobs, green jobs, well-paid jobs, levelling up our country while squashing down our carbon emissions”.
The strategy highlights the early success of several key FE reforms, such as the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, roll-out of the Skills Bootcamps, development of the Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel (GAAP), expansion to Institutes of Technology and T Levels, and more widely, the Skills for Jobs White Paper.
To take these developments forward, the Government has noted the importance of the Green Jobs Taskforce and cross-cutting delivery group to “identify further opportunities to flex key skills programmes to support green sectors and occupations”.
At NCFE, we’ve already begun working with experts in this area to embed sustainability into our qualifications across the board, using the IfATE Sustainability framework.
What does the strategy aim to achieve?
Broadly speaking, the strategy aims to reform the skills system so that training providers, employers and learners are incentivised and equipped to play their part in delivering the transition to net zero. This includes legislating for skills required for jobs that support action on climate change, and other environmental goals to be considered in the development of new local skills improvement plans.
It also aims to deliver a Lifetime Skills Guarantee and to grow key post-16 training programmes such as apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps and T Levels, in line with the needs of employers in the green economy. Individuals will receive the training they need for a job in this economy, either at the start of their careers, or when retraining or upskilling once already in the workforce.
Lastly, the strategy plans to introduce a sustainability and climate change strategy for education and children’s services. This will include a focus on providing children and young people with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to contribute to the green economy.
How will the Government reform the skills system?
The strategy outlines that “as demand for green skills continue to grow across the UK, employers in the green economy must prioritise investment in the retraining and upskilling of their workforce, and actively take the opportunity to engage with education providers to shape local provision”. Central to these reforms will be the Skills for Jobs White Paper, as well as the local skills improvement plans which it proposes.
“Through the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill, we are legislating to put the employer leadership of these plans on a statutory footing and ensure they have regard to skills needed to help deliver on our net zero target, adaptation to climate change, and other environmental goals.”
Also noted is the “£65 million Development Fund pilots in 2021-2022, [which] will support work to identify employers’ skills needs, design provision to respond, and build the capacity of local further education providers to deliver”.
To support the foundations of this reform, the strategy says it’s “reforming the adult skills funding and accountability system for further education colleges and other training providers in a way that will help improve our skills provision”. It is also “consulting on a range of proposals to make sure colleges are better supported to focus on helping their students into good jobs; reduce the complexity of funding so that colleges can focus on their core role of education and training; and define clearer roles and responsibilities for the key players in the system”.
The Government says it has “worked with employers to develop a refreshed apprenticeship standard for further education teaching (Level 5 Learning and Skills Teacher), which came into effect in September 2021”. This will ensure that “for the first time, all further education teachers training via an apprenticeship will be required to integrate sustainability into their teaching, including through modelling sustainable practices and promoting sustainable development principles in relation to their subject specialism”.
The strategy also establishes its commitment to embedding net zero in government. This requires reflection on environmental issues in national policy making through the consideration of 5 environmental principles, such as “ensuring suppliers have plans for achieving net zero on major qualifying public contracts”. This may be something that we begin to see filter down and become embedded in supply chain and procurement processes more generally.
It’s clear that collaboration is key and it’s encouraging that the Government is looking to liaise with employers and providers. This is a good jumping-off point from which we can build upon and look to achieve success through working together.
What actions is NCFE taking?
We’re proud to commit to embedding sustainability across the curriculum, throughout all our products and services. We’re weaving sustainability and green thinking throughout all our qualifications, contextualised to the relevant sector.
We currently offer two pathways for learners wanting to gain a qualification in sustainability:
- Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Climate Change and Environmental Awareness
- Level 4 Certificate in Decarbonising Homes: Technologies, Impacts and Solutions (with National Energy Action)
This newly-accredited Level 4 qualification has been developed in collaboration with national fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, to provide a practical understanding of a range of low carbon and renewable technologies, their impacts and how they can help people living in fuel poverty.
As firm believers that movements need collaborators, we’re always looking to proactively engage with providers and employers on this important topic, to ensure that we’re equipping our learners for success and to help them to be well-placed for opportunity.
We also aim to add further qualifications across the sustainability and climate change sector to our portfolio in the near future.
As outlined in the strategy, the Government’s ambition is to support up to 440,000 jobs across net zero industries in 2030. It wants to enable workers, industries, and places to transition to a net zero economy by 2050, and support industry to develop the skilled workforce to deliver a green industrial revolution. At NCFE, we look forward to training and equipping a new generation with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to champion and lead this green revolution.