Eliminating barriers to employment in the green sector

by Sep 5, 2023Charity partners, Green skills, News, News & events, Our networks, Responsible Business, Social Impact

Creating and filling green jobs is crucial if the UK is to meet its target to deliver a net-zero economy by 2050 (Green Jobs Taskforce, 2021). Green jobs help to protect and restore the natural environment whilst also boosting economic growth, improving energy security, cutting household bills and promoting healthier communities. In essence, they benefit both people and the planet. However, the available workers and skill set required for these positions are increasingly falling short of what is needed to meet growing demand. As the Green Alliance (2022: 2) states: 

“Every major sector in the UK needs to close a significant skills gap to enable them to reach net zero.” 

Greenworkx, an EdTech start-up with a mission to get 10 million people into green jobs in 10 years, is focused on tackling this ‘green skills emergency’. Through its talent portal, Greenworkx seeks to address the shortage of careers advice for green work, helping people to discover jobs, train for them and connect to employers with opportunities. As Mat Ilic, Co-Founder and CEO of Greenworkx explains, there is an urgent need to better inform people about the multitude of green jobs available and to challenge common misconceptions that they are not good or desirable roles.  

The City & Guilds Foundation is delighted to be working in partnership with Greenworkx for a pilot that addresses the increasing demand for Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) and Retrofit Assessor roles key to making older buildings more energy efficient and sustainable. Aligned with City & Guilds’ commitment to promoting contributing to the green economy and supporting people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access quality employment, the pilot involves the delivery of funded DEA training. With around 50,000 assessors needed in the next five years, the pilot will offer important learning for addressing this challenge. 

The training, which has already been delivered to two cohorts in May and June this year, provides individuals who may have little or no prior relevant attainment with a qualification sought by employers in a comparatively short time frame. It encompasses all aspects of the DEA role, including the assessment process, the different types of energy efficiency measures, and how to communicate with customers. 

The pilot aims to tackle the many barriers to accessing green jobs by finding people keen to access these jobs, presenting information in an accessible way and taking the cost of skills development out of the equation. The Foundation’s financial assistance provides a crucial opportunity for people from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop the knowledge and skills required to work in the green sector. As Ilic explains: 

“If you were to access this course on the open market, it would set you back about £1,500. Even if you have this in your bank account – which many people don’t, especially now – you may think, ‘even if I was to spend the money on this course, what’s my likelihood of qualifying, or of being able to recoup it through a good wage in a relatively short space of time?’” 

The pilot involves more than simply paying for training, however, with Greenworkx supporting participants to complete their portfolios and secure interviews, effectively getting them in front of employers and bridging the gap between training and employment. As Ilic confirms, the end goal is to get people into work in this sector via the training, because that is what the world needs. 

The pilot is in its early stages, with 12 participants having moved through their training and currently working on completing their portfolios, but it has already provided vital insights and an essential foundation for establishing how this might scale. Looking to the longer term, Ilic stresses the need for both government and employer support in meeting the financial costs of training for these vital green jobs. 

Greenworkx is currently exploring methods for enhancing the reach of the training, as well as opportunities to establish relationships with more employers. You can read more about Greenworkx’s mission and impactful work at: https://www.greenworkx.org/  

Green Alliance (2022) Closing the UK’s green skills gap 

Green Jobs Taskforce (2021) Green Jobs Taskforce report

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