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What actions can businesses take to reduce the green skills gap?

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Becky Schnauffer, The global head of client solutions at LinkedIn, made a statement regarding COP28, emphasising that HR professionals will play a critical role in developing green skills within their business.

The UK will only achieve net zero by 2050 if the people have the necessary skills. Recruiters are pivotal to determining how the labour market works, especially when many industries face challenges. Over the last few years, there has been a rising employer demand for a high level of recruitment services on managing the existing recruitment landscape and defining the right approach towards sustainability.

Many people recognise the implications of climate change, so it’s vital to know our current or potential employer takes climate change seriously and that they have a strategy in place. Within recruitment, it’s common now for candidates to determine their recruitment decisions around the ESG measures of a prospective employer. Recruiters will liaise with clients to create baseline and future targets for reaching net zero and publish their plans. Creating these commitments means that all employees and their customers recognise the journey the company is on.

The challenge of how to reach net zero or offset carbon emissions can vary from industry to industry, which means each employer must consider what approach will work for them. Achieving a complete net zero requires a collective approach and action, so there is a win-win situation by having everyone involved in these plans. ESG measures are critical to delivering a positive recruitment and retention strategy. 

Employers and recruiters are vital in informing the education and skills system required to reach net zero. The rate of development in the green economy is accelerating and will continue as we work towards the goals set in 2050. The only way we can realistically achieve the goal of net zero by 2050 is to strengthen our workforce skills, which requires changes to our existing education system.

The UK Government has a critical role in this process, particularly in adapting the curriculum, providing career support to the younger generations and offering an investment that will generate a positive return. Businesses could gain support to invest in green skills if the apprenticeship levy could be adjusted to cover training courses and ring-fencing some funds for green skills and courses. Collaborating with industry to streamline standards to enable people to move between sectors enables employers to recruit for our emerging skills requirements. 

Before working on these factors, we must define what a green job is. Without a clear definition of a green job, we’re unable to assess where we stand or define a target for the future. It makes it more challenging to determine under-represented groups employed in green industries, identify the skills required to fill the required roles and identify the necessary interventions. The new REC Manifesto has prioritised creating this definition as one of the core recommendations. 

Other government measures, such as providing an incentive payment for companies investing in green skills and applying government-funded training to strengthen the uptake of green skills training, are good examples. We must learn from previous years, with only 1% of positions within the UK Kickstart funding scheme being within green sectors. 

All of the factors and recommendations mentioned point towards the need for a singular, long-term workforce strategy created in partnership between business and government. 

Future success requires focusing on the people, and with green jobs now representing nearly a third of job postings in the UK, we must get the strategies for our people right when it comes to developing green jobs and green skills.

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