The government has said colleges will be “key” to hitting their target of supporting 440,000 net zero jobs by 2030.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published its long-awaited Net Zero Strategy today, which details how ministers plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to reach an aim of net zero by 2050.
It comes less than two weeks before the COP26 summit in Glasgow, where world leaders will discuss how to reduce the effects of climate change.
Today’s strategy document states that it is the government’s ambition to “support up to 440,000 jobs across net zero industries in 2030, contributing towards a broader pivot to a greener economy which could support two million jobs in green sectors or by greening existing sectors”.
Reforming the skills system is a critical part of this plan, according to the document.
It states that new measures outlined in this year’s Skills for Jobs white paper will be “central” to this.
For example, the government is legislating through the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill to put employer leadership of new local skills improvement plans on a statutory footing and ensure they have “regard to skills needed to help deliver on our net zero target, adaptation to climate change, and other environmental goals”.
Colleges’ place at the “centre of their local communities and economies means that they are key to unlocking opportunities across the country,” the document says.
It adds that the government is reforming the adult skills funding and accountability system for colleges and other training providers to make sure they are “better supported to focus on helping their students into good jobs; reduce the complexity of funding so that colleges can focus on their core role of education and training; and define clearer roles and responsibilities for the key players in the system.
“This means that, for the first time, we will be able to reflect the value that relevant courses deliver to the taxpayer in the funding rate colleges receive for putting on courses.
“We will hold colleges to account for delivering good outcomes, and are consulting on proposals to introduce new accountability agreements setting out national priorities against which we expect colleges to deliver, for example enabling students to access opportunities in the green economy.”
While there is no mention of extra investment in FE providers to achieve the net zero goal, the government’s strategy lists off recent new policies they hope will contribute.
This includes green skills bootcamps, available in areas such as housing retrofit, solar, nuclear energy and vehicle electrification; and the adult level 3 offer under the lifetime skills guarantee which gives people access to free qualifications linked to green sectors.
The government recognises the “transition” through the skills system will require teachers in the further education sector to have a “strong understanding of sustainability”.
To this end, the government points out that employers have developed a refreshed apprenticeship standard for further education teaching – the level 5 learning and skills teacher apprenticeship standard – which came into effect in September 2021.
This apprenticeship, for the first time, requires that sustainability is integrated into their teaching, including through “modelling sustainable practices and promoting sustainable development principles in relation to their subject specialism”.
According to today’s strategy, “early estimates” from the apprenticeship’s trailblazer group suggest around 1,500 teachers each year could train using this apprenticeship standard.
It adds that this standard will “soon be incorporated into all future further education teaching qualifications, so that all teachers across all subject areas will be able to embed and promote sustainability in their teaching”.