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Green Workforce

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 14 July 2021

As we look ahead to publishing our comprehensive net zero strategy and hosting COP26 in the autumn, we must focus on how we invest in the UK’s most important asset—our workforce—so that people have the right skills to deliver the net zero transition and thrive in the jobs it will create. This builds on the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution set out in November 2020—the first step in capturing the once in a lifetime opportunity to lead the charge and pursue a global green recovery, level up the country, and support jobs throughout the UK as we accelerate on our path to reach net zero by 2050.

Today, together with the Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), we welcome the publication of the independent Green Jobs Taskforce’s report. The report brings together evidence on the skills needed in the green economy and sets out their independent recommendations for how the Government, industry and a wide range of stakeholders can work together to meet the important challenges and grasp the opportunities they have identified.

We are also pleased to announce the formation of a cross-cutting delivery group to maintain the momentum generated by the taskforce and drive action across the green skills agenda.

BEIS and DFE convened this taskforce of 17 individuals from diverse backgrounds in industry, academia, unions, and the education and skills sector to come together to advise the Government, industry and the education sector. The Government will now consider the taskforce’s rich evidence base and comprehensive recommendations ahead of setting out, later in the year, our net zero strategy.

But we are taking the first steps to ensure that green jobs are good quality, that they can be accessed by people of all backgrounds and in all parts of the country, and that workers in sectors and industries undergoing change can reapply their skills and expertise towards this new challenge.

In England, the reforms to the skills system set out in the recently published Skills for Jobs White Paper provide the foundation on which we can build. This programme of reform, which placed employers at the centre of our technical education system, includes the introduction of new T-levels, flexible apprenticeships, skills bootcamps and occupational traineeships. Earlier in the year, we marked a major milestone in the lifetime skills guarantee, with the roll-out of almost 400 qualifications which are now available and fully funded for any adult who has not already achieved a level 3 (A-level equivalent) qualification.

We will ensure that these programmes are directed to support more people to get the skills they need to move into green jobs, and consider where we might need to go further or faster to fill skills gaps identified by the taskforce. We are already making progress—skills bootcamps will, from July this year, support flexible training in key green sectors such as construction and nuclear; a green apprenticeship advisory panel is identifying existing apprenticeships that best support green career pathways; our free courses for jobs offer is supporting more adults to study fully funded qualifications in subject areas crucial for green jobs, such as construction, forestry and engineering; and a new emerging skills electrification project will identify cutting-edge skills in the battery/electrification sector, develop short, modular content to meet the needs of employers, and upskill the teaching workforce.

This report also highlights how supporting people to develop the right skills to thrive in this transition cannot be the responsibility of the Government alone. We want to see businesses step up and invest in training the green workforce, and so we urge them to reflect on the taskforce’s work and use it to inform how they can benefit from and contribute to the green industrial revolution.

The Government will continue to work closely with industry to ensure the employer-led skills system we are building through our ongoing reforms meets employers’ needs and reflects the fast changing shape of the UK labour market.

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