Calls for net-zero goal in school curriculums
The UK needs to embed sustainability and its net-zero emissions goal across school curriculums and teacher training standards to plug a glaring low-carbon skills gap, the Aldersgate Group has said today.
In its latest briefing, the Aldersgate Group explains how the COVID-19 crisis has amplified skill shortages and regional inequalities that were already evident prior to the pandemic, with 91% of businesses having said they face a skills deficit in 2018.
It calls for a new low-carbon skills strategy, arguing that urgent action is needed to address the deficit in skills that currently undermines the growth of low-carbon supply chains across the UK economy.
This would embed sustainability across school curriculums and teacher training, support higher and further education to better meet the needs of local employers, and align apprenticeship standards and mid-career reskilling qualifications with the transition to net-zero emissions.
“Skills policy has been a missing link in the UK’s clean growth ambitions for too long," said Nick Molho, executive director of the Aldersgate Group.
“Government must prioritise the development of an ambitious and carefully co-ordinated low-carbon skills strategy, and ensure that education institutions across the country are supported in this process.”
The proposed strategy is based on five key recommendations, which include:
1. Environmental sustainability and the net-zero goal should be fully embedded in the national curriculum across all stages of the education system from primary to tertiary education.
2. This focus on sustainability should be fully reflected in teaching qualifications and the governance of the education system.
3. Higher education and further education institutions should be supported and encouraged to tailor courses, training and qualifications that more closely match the needs of local employers and low-carbon job creation.
4. Funding, research and development support, and business partnerships need to be increasingly targeted to educational institutions that are not located in the ‘Golden Triangle’ between Oxford, Cambridge and London.
5. To have an effective net-zero education system, the UK needs to reform its approach to apprenticeship standards and mid-career reskilling.
The briefing also calls for a clear suite of policies to grow demand in low-carbon infrastructure, goods and services, and for local bodies to be better empowered to support low-carbon investment, job creation and skills provision.
“The Aldersgate Group highlight the vital work that is required to upskill the UK workforce to ensure it is resilient to the changes that are coming over the next three decades,” said professor Aled Jones, director of the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University.
“By transitioning our economy to net zero the UK will unlock a swathe of opportunities that we will only be able to realise if we have the skills needed to deliver.”
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Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM