4 Skills for the Transition |
52) The Commission on Environmental Markets and
Economic Performance (CEMEP) was established by the UK Government
in the light of the Stern Review to make detailed proposals to
ensure the UK is in the best possible position to seize the new
opportunities of the low-carbon economy. The final report from
the Commission was published on 19 November 2007. In it CEMEP
noted that one in three firms in the environmental sector was
being hampered by a shortage of skilled staff, from those needed
to install new technology to scientists and engineers.
53) In response to the CEMEP report on 1 May
2008 the Government published Building a low carbon economy: unlocking
innovation and skills.
This set out how the Government plans to reduce the skills gap.
The Sustainable Development Commission noted that at the Windsor
Consultation on low-carbon skills (an event held with leading
employers at Windsor Castle on 18-19 May 2009) there was little
sense of government progress or action on the CEMEP recommendations
and there was no sign of clear accountability or ownership. They
note that business participants at the event felt frustrated.
54) The Aldersgate Group expressed concerns about
skills restricting low-carbon growth. CEMEP Commissioner Frances
O'Grady, Deputy General Secretary at TUC, (when interviewed by
the Aldersgate Group) stated:
There have been genuine steps forward in terms of
developing a vision and identifying skill requirements both now
and in five to ten years down the line. But there needs to be
more certainty. Renewable companies will not scale up unless they
can be sure the workforce will have the expertise to deliver.
55) Since then Government has published the Low
Carbon Industrial Strategy in which it committed itself
to work proactively with industry to ensure that skills gaps are
filled before they become a barrier to job creation or business
growth. We recognise that some progress is now being made. Low
Carbon Economic Areas (LCEAs) have been established as part of
the Government's Low Carbon Industrial Strategy. Skills Demonstration
Projects are being developed in these to support the demonstration
and commercialisation of new technologies.
56) On 11 November the Government published Skills
for Growth, a national strategy for skills delivery.
This aims to give businesses more power to shape skills training
through programmes like Train to Gain. In addition it will actively
target those sectors and markets on which future growth and jobs
depend. Sectors chosen for this increased support include advanced
manufacturing, engineering construction and low-carbon energy.
In April 2010 the Skills Funding Agency will be set up to assess
demand and divert skills funding into these sectors. The Strategy
states £100 million of funding will be provided to fund 160,000
training places in priority sectors. For the Government's new
strategy to be effective it must deal with four problems with
the current skills system:
(1) encouraging employer participation by simplifying
the skills framework;
(2) establishing a leader to take the green skills
(3) targeting the skills shortages in sectors
needed to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy; and
(4) forecasting those skills that will be required
in new and emerging sectors.
A Simpler Skills System
57) Skills provision for the UK economy is currently
divided between 25 industry-led Sector Skills Councils (SSCs),
working within a skills policy framework that is the preserve
of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) in England (and other
bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). The SSCs are
directed by employers' needs and changes in the national skills
curriculum are triggered when employers perceive a needit
is a demand-led system. National Occupational Standards are written
by SSCs and define the individual qualifications (S/NVQs) awarded
by bodies such as City & Guilds and Edexcel. These S/NVQ courses
are taught at further education colleges and, for apprentices,
through work based training.
58) The provision of green skills under this
is difficult for a number of reasons. From outside, the training
landscape and funding structure is too complex for effective engagement
with all the stakeholders. Sector Skills Councils tell us that
employers are confused in terms of funding available, how to obtain
the funding and routes to training.
There is a need to remove bureaucracy and simplify funding mechanisms
so that employers better understand the options available. This
situation is more difficult, for UK-wide employers, where the
funding structure differs across the devolved nations. Employers
and Sector Skills Organisations are faced with multiple stakeholders
and the frequent need, especially in the regions, to pursue the
same initiative many times over, often with different results.
59) In the Skills for Growth strategy the Government
recognised that complexities in the skills delivery framework
deterred employer's engagement. It set out a wide range of measures
to simplify the system including a pledge to remove over 30 publicly
funded skills bodies over the next three years, plans to reduce
the number of Sector Skills Councils and the abolishment of Regional
Skills Partnerships and a transfer of their powers to RDAs.
60) We welcome the Government's attempts to simplify
the skills delivery system, although this must be done in a way
that does not lose the focus on existing environmental skills.
This simplification will only be meaningful if it encourages business
engagement. EU Skills argued that it was essential that skills
delivery continues to be led through discourse with industry.
For this to happen employers must be provided with a clear understanding
of what is required of them during the low-carbon transition.
The Government must put employer
participation at the heart of its changes to the skills system.
A Green Skills Leader
61) We were told of examples of conflicting targets
within the skills system and misalignment with external policies.
Energy and Utility Skills (the Sector Skills Council for energy,
waste and water industries) raised the example of smart metering:
the Government has announced it intends to mandate smart meters
for all households, with a timetable for completion by the end
of 2020, and this will involve changing 23,000 meters per week
for the next eight years. The workforce does not presently have
the skills to do this, but delivering training to provide these
skills does not fit with the current targets or the qualifications
that the LSC and RDAs are directed to achieve.
62) There is little evidence of ownership of
the low-carbon skills agenda within the skills system. CEMEP envisaged
a leadership role for the UK Commission on Employment and Skills
(UKCES), the body set up to see that employment and skills systems
contribute to the highest levels of productivity. The Government
has since decided that other priorities, such as the simplification
of the entire skills system, should take precedence and it would
not be desirable to divert effort from the core mission of UKCES.
63) The SDC noted that at the Windsor Consultation
the feeling was UKCES would be the appropriate body to lead this
agenda leadership role, but since then the Commission has said
it has not got the capacity to be involved in this and in fact
does not participate in the meetings on that subject.
64) Across the skills framework there are good
examples of co-ordination. A number of Sector Skills Councils
have convened to form the Renewable Energy Skills Group, which
comprises AssetSkills, Cogent, ConstructionSkills, ECITB, Energy
and Utility Skills, Lantra, SEMTA and SummitSkills. The group
has been set up to provide a forum for co-ordinating a Renewable
Energy Skills Strategy. Their proposed Renewable Energy Skills
Strategy aims to take account of the requirements across the supply
chain from initial research, to installation and maintenance and
disposal at the end of life. Such an approach needs to be broadened
to include all industries.
65) The delivery of green skills needs to be
reviewed across the skills system so that processes and skills
bodies are able to deliver green skills as a priority. Leadership
is required to take an overview of green skills delivery and remove
existing barriers. This is particularly important to respond to
a part of the economy that is very fast moving and requires a
flexible here and now response. The
Government must establish a leader for the green skills agenda
to deliver the skills needed for the low-carbon transition, to
coordinate on removing barriers in the current system and to maintain
a focus on the current environmental skills.
A Targeted Approach
66) The demand-led skills framework has failed
for two reasons; the employer's inability to articulate their
skills needs to the skills delivery bodies and the inability of
skills bodies to accurately forecast where demand for new skills
will emerge. A targeted skills approach will need to solve both
these problems. Research commissioned by Defra has found demand
for environmental skills "is not being articulated by many
employers and as a result the current 'demand-led' skills delivery
framework is ill equipped to anticipate and respond".
67) The TUC argues for the urgent development
of an active skills strategy.
They believe the current level of skills training capacity is
inadequate to meet the needs of a low-carbon, resource-efficient
economy. Furthermore they say that relying on the market to identify
skills gaps is causing delays in moving towards a green economy.
The SDC told us that there is a lack of appropriate demand for
some of the skills that are required for the low-carbon transition:
]whether they are technical skills, the stem
skills, whether they are carbon accounting, procurement, construction,
the "Great British Refurb"it is widely recognised
we do not have the skills provision we should have and that something
should be done about it.
68) A more strategic approach to skills supply
is needed, which specifically targets the delivery of skills in
those sectors highlighted by the Committee on Climate Change and
the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy as being important in the low-carbon
its role to assess demand and prioritise sectors for extra funding,
the new Skills Funding Agency must take account of the need to
develop skills in sectors recognised as vital in the low-carbon
69) In the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy the
Government announced that it will do more to forecast and identify
skills needed in low-carbon industries. It would do this by developing
a capacity to collect skills intelligence in key sectors with
employers, Sector Skills councils and the UK Commission for Employment
and Skills (UKCES). This is now being taken forward in the new
Skills Strategy, as part of which UKCES will produce an annual
National Strategic Skills Audit. The first of these is to be published
in 2010 and will involve the Sector Skills Councils and Regional
Development Agencies. The Skills Strategy makes clear that skills
to adapt to climate change are of strategic importance.
70) ConstructionSkills has already set up a specialist
Future Skills Unit to make sure the industry has the training
and qualifications it needs. Skills audits should build on the
best practice and lessons learned from current forecasting programmes.
71) The skills needed for the transition to a
low-carbon economy must be part of the first skills audit. It
should take as its starting point recommendations of the Committee
on Climate Change report to Parliament and identify what skills
are required to meet their recommendations and to what extent
the workforce already has these skills. The results of this audit
should form the basis of the strategic investment for targeted
skills delivery under the Skills Funding Agency.
72) The skills audit should also consider the
long-term affects of job displacement and determine those sectors
where reskilling will be required to ease industrial change or
to ensure continuous employment for those workers in sectors at
risk. A skills audit would also provide the basis for a strategy
for the new green skills leader and could be used by RDAs to develop
a collaborative approach to skills sharing. Government
must use the first National Skills Audit to provide a comprehensive
assessment of current and future gaps in low-carbon skills. The
results of this could provide the basis for any future development
of the green skills strategy.
A Low-Carbon Skill Set
73) Along with targeting specific skills gaps
the IEMA believes that mainstreaming environmental knowledge and
skills across all sectors will be essential to achieving a low-carbon
economy. In 2008 Lantra, the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the
environmental and land based sector, commissioned IEMA to undertake
research into existing National Occupational Standards (NOS),
Training and Qualifications in relation to environment and sustainability.
A key finding of the research was the lack of a clear structure
and framework for environmental and sustainability skills. The
EIC call for a similar mainstreaming of green skills and that
all existing Sectors Skills Councils should develop programmes
relevant for green jobs.
74) Reducing emissions or adapting to climate
change are not seen as a strategic priority for many organisations,
and many small businesses and public sector organisations do not
yet understand how they need to change. Until technologies are
familiar and proven, people and businesses are often reluctant
to use them, or are unaware how well developed, robust and cost-effective
'new' technologies have become. As the price of carbon rises businesses
will have to become more environmentally aware. They need to develop
the skills to deal with these changes now.
75) We recognise that the Government is working
to encourage business to become more resource and energy efficient.
The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency scheme, which
enters into force in 2010, will stimulate improved energy efficiency
in large business and public sector organisations which are responsible
for around 10% of UK emissions.
The Government also funds the Carbon Trust to provide a range
of support to help businesses understand the opportunities and
risks of climate change, and to embed low-carbon as a strategic
priority. Despite this further effort is required to mainstream
green skills across industry and develop the confidence at board
level and below to manage carbon reduction in business. By
establishing a leader for the green skills agenda the Government
could provide an opportunity to deliver green skills across all
sectors. This will be important as green skills must eventually
be mainstreamed throughout the whole economy.
43 Defra, Building a Low Carbon Economy: unlocking
innovation and skills, May 2008 Back
Ev 27 Back
Ev 13 Back
DBIS, Skills for Growth, November 2009 Back
Ev 83 and Ev 170 Back
Ev 83 Back
Ev 13 Back
Ev 84-85 Back
HM Government New Industry, New Jobs: Building Britain's future,
April 2009,p15 Back
Ev 34 Back
Ev 25 Back
Ev 157 Back
Ev 51 Back
Ev 123 Back