Saplings for the Green Jobs Delivery Group
The Green Edge has been paddling through the Local Skills Plans produced from DfE’s Skills Advisory Panel (SAP) programme. The new Green Jobs Delivery Group might think about doing likewise.
Now that the much-anticipated Green Jobs Delivery Group has finally appeared, together with its data-hungry little brother the Unit for Future Skills, The Green Edge hopes that, for England at least, they both make good use of the body of work - over 1,900 pages worth of it – we find in the list of local skills reports coming from DfE’s Skills Advisory Panel (SAP) programme.
Initiated in 2018 and supported through DfE grant funding to 36 English mayoral combined authorities and local enterprise partnerships, the programme set out to ‘increase the quality of local-level skills and labour market analysis, and strengthen links between local employers and skills providers’. In an attempt to define a common framework, the programme was supported by an analysis toolkit to ‘underpin the “people” element of [each] local industrial strategy’.
While the SAP programme did not explicitly call for skills analyses for the green economy, we haven’t been too surprised to find that all the local skills reports cover green skills and jobs, to a greater or lesser extent. At least 12 SAPs have produced specific green skills analyses for their areas. In some cases, groups of LEPs have been brought together for regional green skills and investment planning purposes, a good example of this being Net Zero North West.
Of course, the big cities like Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield are making big green efforts. But we also see a number of smaller cities taking up the mantle: Hull, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Southampton and York, for example. Some - like the Tees Valley, which has ambitions to become the UK’s first net zero industrial cluster, with industrial-scale projects around carbon capture and storage, offshore renewable energy and hydrogen production - have built their green analyses into the cores of their reports.
In the reports, we see clear drivers for building green skills and jobs: decarbonising existing businesses (chemicals, steel, cement, etc.); generating low carbon energy (hydrogen, wind, tidal, solar); creating and developing low carbon enabling technologies (monitoring and control devices, smart energy management systems, and storage systems); and the wider general move towards net zero for domestic housing and local transport. In a few cases, we see the whole transition to net zero being pivotal, involving citizen awareness and engagement across the population, both for individual decision-making (investing in heat pumps; migrating to low carbon public transport; adopting low carbon diets, etc.) and in engagement with local environment decisions (school streets; greening of local areas; enhancing local natural capital, etc.). We do note, however, that the whole notion of citizen-level carbon literacy is only seen in one report, the one for Manchester. Some other reports do seek to engage on the transition to net zero but don’t mention carbon literacy. This seems to contrast with efforts being made north of the border.
A number of common themes emerge from the SAP reports:
A clear attempt to use of near real-time labour market intelligence (LMI). Examples: Leeds’ Future Ready Skills Commission produced a blueprint for a future-ready skills system; Liverpool established a dedicated jobs site which covers energy, tidal, environment and green jobs.
Investment in making as full use as possible of LMI data. Examples: Sheffield’s use of Skills Analysis Report by IER Warwick; Liverpool’s investment in analytical tools and LMI data.
Creating working career advice and guidance systems building on the Gatsby Benchmarks and ensuring all career options are fully covered (in particular in the green economy).
Joining together education and training providers to create clear pathways for supported progression and development, and a curriculum which reflects current and near future needs. This often walks into innovation, technology development, and the provision of new, local facilities such as the Mira Technology Institute.
Skills plans squarely based on local industrial strategies. Examples: Solent (Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight); Humber (Hull and East Yorkshire).
The importance of a group of driving, pioneering businesses. Examples: Siemens, Orsted and Able on the Humber; Nissan in the North East; Drax in North Yorkshire; Willmott Dixon, Vinci, Skanska and Volker-Fitzpatrick in Hertfordshire.
The importance of hydrogen as an emerging net zero fuel and as a means of storing energy. This is highlighted in nine regions as a part of the decarbonisation of existing manufacturing operations, such as the petro-chemical complexes in Cheshire and Warrington/Merseyside, the Solent and the Tees Valley - all industrial clusters and part of Zero Carbon Hubs. We also see it in the move to decarbonise local transport facilities, such as marine as in the case of Portsmouth (covered by the Solent LEP). What isn’t clear, though, is how these developments might start to chart the real beginning of epicentres of global significance, like we see in Houston.
While most high potential green employment sectors are covered across the regions, we have been somewhat surprised to find that two are not well captured and explored. First, waste - enablers of materials reuse; industrial and mature materials processing; materials processing innovation and so on. And second, water, in both domestic and industrial supply. Perhaps this is a steer the Green Jobs Delivery Group might give to the SAPs for future iterations (if any) of their skills plans.
A note to the Green Jobs Delivery Group
As the Green Jobs Delivery Group gets under way, we thought it would be useful to see how useful the SAP reports might be, both as saplings for the Group’s work and also to identify regions where the Group might be able to offer support (we did find a few reports that are in our opinion weak and could do with a bit of help). We suggest that the Group might consider a light-touch survey of the LEPs/City Regions and to use the SAP reports as a baseline on green jobs development across England. We feel this should show how the regions are building green skills of national significance.
As we continue to paddle through all the SAP reports, with their accompanying technical annexes and analyses, The Green Edge is in the process of building what we feel is a useful matrix comparing the priorities, progress and outputs of the 36 regions around England. If that would be of use to the Green Jobs Delivery Group, it only needs to ask.
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