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Green Apprenticeships – harness the potential of the next generation

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The UK requires 60,000 people to install solar panels and needs an additional 50,000 heat pump engineers by 2035. A significant proportion of 15-25-year-olds are required to enter the green workforce to meet that need.

A recent report delivered by the MCS Foundation explored whether young people are considering green career options and discovered that while concerns surrounding climate change remain high, only 15% have considered benefiting the environment as a critical factor in their career choice. In contrast, 60% prioritise a job that they enjoy and pays well. However, 57% of young people said they would consider a renewable energy job if they had the assurance they could simultaneously pursue an apprenticeship, enabling them to earn and learn. The study also indicated that 55% of young people would consider a renewable energy job if there was additional information about the options available to them in education.

The findings emphasise the lack of awareness of apprenticeships and how university remains the aspirational choice for school leavers. The report suggests this way of thinking is holding back the UK from accessing the potential talent of the next generation. Some respondents explained that there is significant support in school for universities but a lack of information concerning apprenticeships.

The benefit of accessing an apprenticeship to support the green transition is gaining support from young people. More individuals recognise that green energy has grown in recent years, and pursuing a job in this industry would give them security and a potential career for life. For one individual, an apprenticeship enabled them to enter the green industry. While this path may be challenging, it provides direct involvement and understanding of green energy and how to make it more efficient and innovative.

There seems to be a shortage of green professionals, particularly installers, so we require apprenticeships to fill that gap. Many people feel they lack the necessary drive to pursue an apprenticeship at school, and university is considered the only choice.

To grasp the potential of apprenticeships, the MCS Foundation emphasises that apprenticeships should be promoted via channels and networks that young people often access for information on possible career options. This includes school and university career advice, social media channels and other networks. Information about the types of training available, incorporating office, project management and more technical-based roles should also be highlighted.

Richard Hauxwell-Baldwin, Research and Campaigns  Manager at the  MCS Foundation and report author explains that for the young people who want to contribute to protecting the environment but fail to find a green job as an option, apprenticeships could be the right path. Baldwin explains that we need thousands of professionals to work in the solar and heat pump sectors in the coming decade, and apprenticeships are critical in enabling us to access future skills to meet that need.

We must move beyond a system where the university is considered the only route for aspirational school leavers and highlight that apprenticeships offer vital job and learning opportunities for the next generation, providing exciting and lucrative jobs that tackle the environmental challenges we face.

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