Delivering the Green Jobs Delivery Group
The inaugural meeting of the Green Jobs Delivery Group was help on the 11th May. Here's our opinion on it thus far.
The Green Edge has commented a few times over the past few months on the much-anticipated launch of the Green Jobs Delivery Group (the ‘Group’). Back in February, we received a letter from Alex Burghart, Minister for Skills at the DfE, telling us:
‘Going forward, a new Green Jobs Delivery Group will be the central forum through which government, industry and other key stakeholders work together to ensure that the UK has the workforce needed to deliver a green industrial revolution’.
Well, now it’s here. The inaugural meeting of the Group was held on the 11th May. And this is what we know about it so far…
…not much. Not yet, at least.
Apart from the press release, thus far HM Gov seems to be silent on the Group. Instead of just a press release, we might reasonably have expected to at least see the minutes. Or perhaps a Terms of Reference, like the one published for its predecessor the Green Jobs Taskforce. We can at least see who attended the meeting, which we thought might be useful to map against attendee interests and possible guiding influence on the Ten Point Plan. We’ve published it as a Google spreadsheet (see below, click image to view) - more about this later in this post.
Response in the press and elsewhere has been muted at best. The BBC and other mainstream media - preoccupied as they are with Ukraine (understandably) and Eurovision - have said very little, if anything. Groups with skin in the game, like Environment Journal and Energy Voice, have at least noted that the inaugural meeting took place, while others like the Institute of Chartered Foresters have posted about their representations in the Group. But, apart from a regurgitation of the press release - especially the fact that the Group has been established to support the delivery of up to 480,000 skilled green jobs by the end of the decade - these posts provide no other detail.
Even the Twitter feed for the Environmental Audit Committee (@CommonsEAC) is strangely silent. Remember, the EAC was critical back in January of the lack of detail on the Government’s green job ambitions. Maybe we’ll drop a line to the EAC Chair, Rt Hon Philip Dunne (C), to see if he’s noticed.
The Green Jobs Delivery Group - who’s in it (and who isn’t)
We acknowledge we’re doing a fair bit of second-guessing here, but we thought the best thing to do is to go right back to the Ten Point Plan and see how well each point was covered within the membership of the Group. While the Group’s predecessor, the Green Jobs Taskforce did (in our opinion, at least) a good job of identifying the critical skills needed for the Ten Point Plan, the Plan itself was only published (in November 2020) in the same month the Taskforce was formed. Therefore we assume (perhaps incorrectly, in which case, please accept our apologies) that the Plan didn’t have a direct influence on the balance of disciplines within the Taskforce. Shouldn’t be the case this time round for the Group, though1.
So let’s start with the positives. In Green Edge’s opinion, this is a top group of people (32 of them at first count) spanning major parts of the green economy, especially those parts that have been subject to recent government focus, like energy security and buildings. Some members represent key businesses - like Siemens - that cut across the economy, from the factory of the future to smart cities. Others - like Octopus - are deep diving into one or more of the Ten Point Plan’s silos2.
But there do appear to be gaps. While points like Offshore Wind are well represented (the Group is co-chaired by Michael Lewis, CEO of E.ON) and Defra has ensured the Natural Environment is given its fair share of attention, we see little in the way of representation for Points 5 (Green Public Transport, Cycling and Walking) and 6 (Jet Zero and Green Ships). Perhaps the Government feels that sectors like Maritime are travelling towards Net Zero well enough under their own steam? Hmm, perhaps not.
We see other omissions that also seem a bit strange. While the Government seems to have responded to the EAC’s concern and has now involved the Department for Levelling Up, the Treasury still isn’t represented. Perhaps they felt it would it just dominate the proceedings? Likewise, the Department for Transport, which was in the original plan, now seems to be missing. Or is it us who are missing something here?
Similarly, there doesn’t seem to be a good dissemination path down to local levels where, let’s face it, most of the real green action will happen. The Association of County Councils (is this the same thing as the County Councils Network?) is represented, but the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), set up to play a central role in deciding local economic priorities and undertaking activities to drive economic growth and create local jobs, are not. We note that there was a LEP representative on the Taskforce, but the fact LEPs aren’t represented in the Group is perhaps a reflection of questions asked about their governance by the National Audit Office in 20193.
And where are our old friends at DfE’s Skills and Productivity Board? We’re starting to feel this group has sunk without trace.
Admittedly, we’re only seeing the first snapshot, based on just the press release. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, to transmit as well as to receive. We look forward to updating our knowledge when we see the inaugural meeting minutes at some time in the not-too-distant future (we do read these things, because we’re a bit odd like that here at The Green Edge).
Hitting the ground running
Putting aside for the moment concerns about gaps in membership (remember, this is already a big group, and the bigger the design committee, the lumpier the camel), where do we think the real influences will come against each point in the Ten Point Plan? We’ve had a first look at this in our spreadsheet, where we’ve put a tick against a name where we think there’s a vested interest, while a green shading means we think the wheels are already spinning up for landing. Additionally, we’ve looked for some key evidence in the form of reports, manifestos and the like.
(Click image to view)
We see, for example, that IEMA has done some splendid sustainability skills mapping, while the Institute of Chartered Foresters makes clear links to the relevant IfATE apprenticeships. How these translate to actual jobs though, is not so clear.
Elsewhere, we find good evidence for understanding green skills needs and gaps in Construction, via the CITB and the Green Alliance, and by Make UK in manufacturing associated with things like EVs. And we note that Green Finance and Innovation is covered by at least one member of the group, Dr Anna Valero, who among her roles is an Associate of the Grantham Research Institute, an establishment which we have written about in a previous post and which we hold in the highest regard.
We invite you to browse the spreadsheet, which we’ll update as we get more information. It’s very much a work in progress and we freely admit there may be omissions, misguided assumptions and errors. We welcome any feedback you may have, via comments against this post or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skilling up - and staffing up
While we can see who in the Group represents bodies - educational, industrial or otherwise - doing valuable work on green skills, the translation of green skills into green jobs is less clear. Once again, we feel there is a tendency - in the minds of government at least - to conflate green skills with green jobs4. Can a job only be green if it’s doing something within the green economy, as defined by the Ten Point Plan? Or can a non-green job be done in a green way, applying green skills to, say, circular economy activities, as we saw with the companies in our recent series on B Corps in the office supplies and services sector? We think it can, as does LinkedIn in its latest Green Skills report.
And what about green awareness and everyday skills for the population as a whole? Not covered by the Group, but then that’s not in its remit - or at least we’re pretty sure it won’t be when we eventually see the Group’s Terms of Reference.
Coming back to the Terms of Reference, we feel these might be at least partially shaped by the Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership (EUSP). EUSP’s chair is Michael Lewis who, as we’ve already mentioned, is also co-chair of the Group. Its 2020 report Many Skills One Vision lays out three strategic priorities for the energy sector, the second one being:
Maximising investment in skills - investment made by asset owners and their supply chains
…speed up the process of people becoming productive, encourage further investment in skills from asset owners and their supply chain, see continued investment in apprenticeships with a high return on investment, and motivate employees to stay as they gain in confidence and feel they are contributing usefully to their company.
The Group might also build on the goals of its predecessor, the Green Jobs Taskforce, whose objective for ‘developing recommendations for an action plan to support 2 million [!] good quality, green jobs and the skills needed by 2030’ included the identification of ‘options to support a just transition for people working in high carbon industries and enable them to mobilise their skills in support of net zero’. Adding this to the priority put forward by the EUSP, perhaps the Group should be looking for the best educational, financial and policy levers to incentivise asset owners of all types - green, blue, brown, black and every colour in-between - and in every sector, not just those covered by the Ten Point Plan, to skill up - and staff up - for net zero.
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Interestingly, we find that only three members of the Group were formerly members of the Taskforce: Jane Cooper (CITB); Nick Molho (Aldersgate Group); and Sue Ferns (TUC).
Octopus covers heat pumps and domestic energy (sponsoring the manufacture of heat pumps in Northern Ireland) and is also very active in e-mobility, through EV car charging.
Through their local skills plans, LEPs are also a key source of data. We will be talking about this further in an upcoming post on green skills for green cities.
Perhaps even the name of the Group - like the Taskforce - is a bit of a misnomer. Green Jobs AND SKILLS Delivery Group? Hmm, perhaps a little too much of a mouthful.