Green Jobs: Government Response to the Committee’s Third Report

Fourth Special Report of Session 2021–22

Author: Environmental Audit Committee

Related inquiry: Green Jobs

Date Published: 20 January 2022

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Contents

Fourth Special Report

On 25 October 2021 the Environmental Audit Committee published its Third Report of Session 2021–22, Green Jobs (HC 75).

The Government response was received on 29 December 2021.

In the Government Response, the Committee’s recommendations are shown in bold type. The Government responses are shown in plain type.

Appendix: Government Response

The Government welcomes the Environmental Audit Committee’s focus on green jobs and skills as the UK moves to a low carbon, high skill economy, and the Committee’s latest report on Green Jobs published on 25 October 2021.

The UK is already a world leader in the green economy. Over the last 30 years we have cut our emissions faster than any nation in the G7 whilst growing our economy by 78%. There are currently 410,0001 people working in the low carbon economy.

However, our ambition is to go much further. In November 2020, the Prime Minister set out the landmark Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. In the ten months after the launch of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, 56,000 jobs were protected and created, including in electric vehicle manufacturing in Sunderland, Hydrogen facilities in Teesside, and offshore wind in Northumberland, Yorkshire and the Humber. Some of these jobs are already in place and others set to follow over the coming decade.

The Net Zero Strategy, published in October 2021, builds on this, by setting out the next steps we will take to cut our emissions, seize green economic opportunities, and leverage further private investment into net zero. The policies and spending brought forward in the strategy will support up to 190,000 jobs in 2025, and up to 440,000 jobs in 2030, and leverage up to £90 billion of private investment by 2030.

Recognising the critical importance of skills to delivering our net zero goal, and putting the UK at the forefront of global green markets, we launched the independent Green Jobs Taskforce in November 2020 to advise on how to support the workforce with the transition to a green economy. The Taskforce reported its recommendations in July 2021, and these have fed into our Net Zero Strategy, which sets out the government’s overall approach to working with industry to create the workforce to deliver net zero and support workers in-high carbon sectors with the transition. The policies set out in the Net Zero Strategy represent a first step in addressing the challenges identified by the Green Jobs Taskforce and our overall mission to support green jobs and skills.

Alongside this, at COP 26, the Department for Education launched a draft Climate and Sustainability Strategy, which includes a focus on excellence in education and skills for a changing world.

As your report makes clear, it is vital that there is concerted action across government and industry on green jobs and skills if we are to take the opportunities afforded by the green industrial revolution, and meet our net zero goal. Our new Green Jobs Delivery Group will drive forward action on this agenda across government and industry. As part of this response to the Committee’s Report, we are announcing that the Group will include ministers from the Departments for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Education (DfE), Work & Pensions (DWP) and Transport (DfT) alongside an industry co-chair. We will set out further details in the new year.

Response to the Environmental Audit Committee’s Recommendations

This section sets out our response to the 18 recommendations contained within the committee’s report.

1. Green Jobs ambitions

Report recommendation

We recommend that, by the end of 2021, the Government set out how it will measure progress towards its green jobs targets; this should include its definition of ‘green jobs’, and how it will measure the number, type and location of these over the 2020s, for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating the impact of its policies. (Paragraph 20)

Government response

We are taking steps to embed processes within government to capture how we are supporting green jobs through government schemes, and will report on this periodically.

In addition, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy (LCREE) survey, which has been measuring trends in the low carbon and renewable energy since 2014. This annual publication is the primary source of evidence on the low-carbon economy. The Net Zero Strategy included a commitment for the ONS to refine and develop our understanding and measurement of the green economy as the UK transitions to net zero, including considering quality of work and diversity within the green economy. We are also exploring ways to better measure and understand the impact of the transition across UK regions.

Alongside this, we are taking steps to embed processes within government to capture how we are supporting green jobs through government schemes.

Report recommendation

We recommend that the Government, in its response to this report, set out its arrangements for cross-departmental delivery of green jobs and skills ambitions, identifying:

a) each department’s responsibilities;

b) how it will monitor and co-ordinate delivery across departments; and

c) how it will collaborate with the devolved administrations and local authorities.

We recommend that these arrangements include tasking the cabinet committees on climate action with overseeing the delivery of green jobs and skills actions across Government, ensuring that this includes oversight of departments’ actions on green jobs and skills less directly related to climate action, such as those in nature or the circular economy. (Paragraph 27)

Government response

The Net Zero Strategy set out a commitment to form a new cross-cutting delivery group, to support the development and delivery of the Government’s plans for green jobs and skills.

We are pleased to set out further details on this group to the Committee. The Green Jobs Delivery Group will be the central forum through which government, industry and other key stakeholders work together to ensure that the UK has the workforce needed to deliver a green industrial revolution.

The Group will include Ministerial representation from the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions, and other departments as required. It will also be co-chaired by an industry representative to ensure an inclusive view of the action on green jobs needed for net zero and wider environmental goals. The Government will explore the role that the devolved administrations and local government can play to support this work, to ensure effective join up across the UK.

The Group will be active for the duration of this Parliament and will aim to drive forward industry and government action across a range of topics, which might include:

1) Ensuring we have the skilled workforce to deliver net zero and wider environmental goals in line with the UK’s levelling up agenda.

2) Ensuring workers and communities in high carbon sectors are supported with the transition in the wider context of the UK’s levelling up agenda

3) Better understanding and addressing barriers to recruitment, retention and progression in green jobs (including quality of work, pay, conditions, image, etc.)

4) Ensuring green jobs are open to all

5) Building on the work of the Green Jobs Taskforce to develop a clearer understanding of the green economy and how to define and measure it

We will set out further detail on the Group’s precise remit and membership as part of a full terms of reference in the new year.

Government plans to monitor the delivery of green jobs alongside other delivery metrics on net zero. We are looking to place climate at the centre of government decision-making. The Prime Minister personally chairs the Climate Action Strategy Committee (CAS). The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, COP 26 President, chairs the Climate Action Implementation Committee (CAI). These committees and supporting governance structures ensure that there are multiple forums empowered to identify and address the interdependencies within net zero, and between net zero and other priorities, and drive progress.

Report recommendation

We recommend that by the end of 2021 the department or body with overall responsibility for delivery of the Government’s green jobs policies should, in collaboration with the different departments engaged in green jobs policy, assign indicative costings to each department’s actions within the overall green jobs delivery plan. This should include the Government’s assessment of the funding requirements for green jobs and skills needed within local authorities to deliver the Government’s climate and nature objectives. (Paragraph 36)

Government response

As reflected by the Green Jobs Taskforce, the delivery of the government’s green jobs and skills policies is a highly cross-cutting agenda, spanning action across several Government departments. The recommendations of the Green Jobs Taskforce were released prior to the Spending Review 2021. They helped inform to inform Spending Review prioritisation and individual department programme allocations. The Net Zero Strategy has explicitly highlighted these allocations for specific policy areas. Further allocations depend on ongoing and future policy development, and as such it is not possible to set these out to the Committee at this point.

2. Jobs and skills needed for green Covid-19 recovery

Report recommendation

We recommend that the Government’s net zero and environmental goals are considered at the design stage of future labour market interventions, to ensure that such interventions are fully aligned with the green recovery. (Paragraph 44)

Government response

In the ten months after the launch of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, 56,000 jobs were protected and created, with some already online and others set to come online over the coming decade.

Our Plan for Jobs and the Net Zero Strategy, set out our approach to building back better and greener than before. This includes supporting up to 440,000 green jobs in 2030 through the measures in the Net Zero Strategy. In particular this Strategy set out the approach the Government has taken to reform the skills system so that training providers, employers and learners are incentivised and equipped to play their part in delivering the transition to net zero (such as through new Local Skills Improvement Plans). It also set out the Government’s commitment to deliver a Lifetime Skills Guarantee and grow key post-16 training programmes (such as apprenticeships, Skills Bootcamps and T levels) in line with the needs of employers in the green economy, helping individuals get the training they need for a job in the green economy, either at the start of their careers or when retraining or upskilling once already in the workforce.

In addition, DWP is exploring opportunities to improve how we consider government’s net zero and environmental goals at the design stages of future labour market interventions. This could include developing a checklist to ensure new policies are aligned with net zero objectives.

Report recommendation

We reiterate the recommendation from our earlier report that the Government should work with conservation organisations to pilot a National Nature Service during 2022. (Paragraph 55)

Government response

As set out in the Skills for Jobs white paper, Government is taking forward reforms to put employers at the heart of the skills system to ensure it is responsive to the needs of local economies. The nature sector is key to the delivery of the Government’s environmental ambitions. The increased investment that we plan to drive into nature’s recovery will create green jobs in the sector, and a demand from these employers for the requisite skills.

Additionally, Defra’s funding of 159 projects across England through the £80m Green Recovery Challenge Fund has demonstrated the critical role the nature sector plays in supporting skills development. These projects are enabling environmental charities and their partners to create and retain around 2,500 jobs, and to provide training, apprenticeship and upskilling opportunities. To further thus work, Defra are working with the nature sector to understand its future skills needs in more detail. A group of organisations in the sector has secured initial funding to develop a pilot Youth Environmental Service, along the lines of a National Nature Service.

Furthermore, as part of DfE’s Draft Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, a National Education Nature Park and Climate Leaders award has been announced. This will increase the opportunities for children and young people to engage in nature and develop skills in areas such as bio-diversity mapping and data analysis.

These initiatives will provide an excellent opportunity for children and young people to pursue their interests in nature and contextualise their learning through co-curricular activities. Over time, we want many children and young people in nurseries, schools and colleges to be engaging with the Park and the Award scheme and hence building that wider capacity and skills in working with nature.

Report recommendation

We recommend that the Government’s own analysis into the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme be completed during 2021 to ensure lessons learned inform future schemes’ designs, and include a plan for industry engagement, to rebuild trust. (Paragraph 65)

Government response

Ipsos MORI is undertaking an independent evaluation of the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme. The first interim report, which evaluates the scheme’s processes and delivery, will be published in early 2022. The National Audit Office also published a review of the scheme in September. Evaluation findings are being shared internally, as well as lessons learned workshops being carried out, to inform future schemes’ designs. Industry engagement following the publication of the Heat and Buildings Strategy is being established via the Net Zero Buildings Council and other regular engagement forums.

Report recommendation

In line with our recommendation for a national retrofit strategy in our Energy Efficiency in Existing Homes report, by the end of 2021 the Government needs to set out a programme to encourage the development of relevant skills across the construction trade, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to stimulate development of skilled trades to increase the capacity markedly. (Paragraph 67)

Government response

As set out in our recently published Heat and Buildings Strategy, it is vital that we address the energy efficiency of our buildings as well as the energy source they use for heating, if we are to decarbonise our building stock by 2050. In practice, this means ensuring that any new buildings are constructed to the highest standards of energy efficiency, so that they do not need to be retrofitted in future, as well as retrofitting our existing buildings so that they waste less heat and are warmer, healthier and greener.

We recognise the need for a skilled, competent, and robust supply chain to deliver the improvements to buildings necessary to meet our net zero targets. Initial progress has been made through the £6.9m skills competition launched in September 2020 to provide 8,000 training opportunities for the energy efficiency and low carbon heating supply chains. Going forward we intend to monitor the market and its response to our interventions and are considering options to work with the industry to support training in key skills shortage areas and new routes of entry to increase capacity creating more green jobs.

Through the Skills for Jobs White Paper, we are reforming our skills system to create more routes into skilled employment in sectors the economy needs, such as housing retrofit. We have put employers at the heart of these reforms. We have existing programmes that currently support construction skills, such as: Skills Bootcamps which offer short, flexible courses in key green sectors such as housing retrofit, and The Engineering for construction T Level which launched in Sept 2021 covers housing retrofit and heat pump installation.

We will continue to work closely with industry to develop our training offers so they meet the needs of employers of all sizes. For example, we are making improvements to the apprenticeships levy transfers process, enabling large employers to more easily direct their unused funds to SMEs in their supply chain, sector or region.

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) is one of DfE’s Arms Length Bodies. Its purpose is to provide better training within the construction sector. CITB is in the early planning stages of reviewing options to develop and fund a suite of basic ‘green skills’ training modules that embed understanding of carbon and environmental imperative in every aspect of construction.

3. Long-term environmental goals and a just transition to net zero

Report recommendation

We recommend that Defra’s Skills Gap Plan cover all areas of the 25 Year Environment Plan and be accompanied by an Action Plan to address skills shortages, developed in co-ordination with the Department for Education and stakeholders. The Skills Gap Plan and Action Plan ought to be published by March 2022 at the latest and aligned with Defra’s existing and forthcoming sectoral plans and strategies, such as the Waste and Resources, Clean Air, Trees, Peat and Nature strategies. (Paragraph 73)

Government response

The Government is taking a strategic and comprehensive approach to understanding the skills needed to deliver the 25 Year Environment Plan as we conduct our first statutory review of the Plan. In line with Environment Act 2021 requirements for the review of the Environmental Improvement Plan, we will analyse implementation of the 25YEP since 2018, and consider further steps needed. The first statutory review of the 25YEP must be completed by January 2023.

Defra is working with the DfE to identify the key skills needs of the sector as part of DfE’s wider work on green skills, and with the appropriate departments and stakeholders to address any skills gaps that are uncovered.

We will provide an interim update to Parliament on our work to date to identify 25 Year Environment Plan skills needs, as committed to in our response to the Public Accounts Committee’s Achieving government’s long-term environmental goals report, in due course.

Report recommendation

We recommend that a just transition plan:

a) be published by the end of 2021;

b) assess regional as well as sectoral impact, to ensure regional skills transitioning plus employment and pensions support is in place; and

c) include a strategy for maintaining public support for net zero.

As cross-departmental action is required, this plan should set out the departments or bodies co-ordinating just transition action and each department’s responsibilities, alongside plans for monitoring progress and co-ordinating with local authorities and the devolved administrations. The just transition plan should also include plans for stimulating replacement jobs in green sectors less directly related to net zero, such as nature and the circular economy. (Paragraph 84)

Government response

Our Net Zero Strategy, published in October 2021, outlines measures across the economy which will support industries, communities and workers with the transition to a net zero economy.

To help understand the impact of the transition on the workforce, the government convened the independent Green Jobs Taskforce. Their report, published in July 2021 includes an assessment of the impact of the transition on different sectors and regions, including identifying where new green jobs are likely to be located. This research developed and tested a new approach to model the impact of the transition to net zero on the economy of a local region, focusing on the North East of England.2

As set out above, we are introducing Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs), which will be developed by employer representative bodies, working closely with local employers, providers and other key stakeholders such as mayoral combined authorities. These plans will help make technical education and training provision more responsive to the changing skills needs of employers and the local economy.

New Local Skills Improvement Plans, which will be developed by local employer representative bodies and other local stakeholders, will help to make technical education and training more responsive to the needs of local employers. Through the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill we are ensuring that the skills required for jobs that will help deliver on our net zero target and other environmental goals are considered in the development of these plans.

DWP is considering how to work more closely with sectors in the future to support them in the green transition. They are also identifying where they can adapt and enhance their support for people who are at risk of redundancy or who have become unemployed, to support them to move into green jobs.

Many of the challenges in relation to supporting workers, communities and businesses to transition to net zero, will require sustained work between government, industry, and the skills sector. To drive this forward we have announced a cross-cutting delivery group to include representatives from industry, the skills sector and other key stakeholders to support the development and delivery of the Government’s plans for green jobs and skills. The departmental membership and high-level purpose of this group has been set out above.

Report recommendation

There is a risk that the net zero transition could lead to UK job and skills losses if carbon-emitting industries simply move overseas.

The Government needs to set out in its just transition plan how it will address this risk. During 2021, the Government should conduct analysis into how a UK CBAM could comply with international trade obligations. (Paragraph 91)

Government response

As we transition to net zero, it is important to ensure that the UK’s ambitious climate policy interventions do not lead to carbon leakage. The UK’s current approach to mitigating carbon leakage risk is through issuing free allowances under the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to sectors most exposed to the risk of carbon leakage and providing energy-intensive sectors with compensation for increased energy costs. We are further developing our policy framework on carbon leakage mitigation, including reviewing our approach to free allocations, following an initial call for evidence in Spring 2021.

In the Net Zero Review: Final Report, published on 19 October 2021, the Government outlined analysis of the possible risks of carbon leakage to the UK and a range of possible mitigation options. In the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy, we committed to develop new proposals for product standards and product labelling and to use public procurement to drive change. This package of measures will support UK industry to thrive as we deliver net zero.

4. Education and skills pipeline

Report recommendation

We recommend that environmental sustainability be included across all primary and secondary courses delivered through the National Curriculum and across A Level courses. Teachers should be supported to deliver this, with teacher training and continuous professional development. We recommend that the Department for Education consult all relevant stakeholders during the 2021/22 academic year on the delivery of this recommendation. (Paragraph 102)

Government response

Topics related to climate change and the environment are already included within the citizenship, science and geography National Curricula. This provides key learning to all students, but the curriculum also offers flexibility and we are seeing excellent work in this space at all levels in many schools.

The draft Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy announced by DfE at COP26 sets out activity to improve climate education. This includes support for teachers including continuous professional development for Science at Primary and Secondary and a Model Curriculum for Primary Science.

DfE are carrying out engagement with relevant stakeholders on the draft strategy ahead of the launch of the final strategy in April 2022. This includes a climate education-specific user group.

Report recommendation

By the end of January 2022, the Government should engage with delivery partners and schools in order to extend the Children and Nature programme beyond March 2022 and expand the number of delivery projects within the programme, using the evaluation project findings to inform the design and implementation of this expansion. (Paragraph 104)

Government response

Encouraging children to be close to nature, in and out of school, is a key 25 Year Environment Plan commitment. We will continue to deliver against this objective once the programme closes in March 2022.

For example, the Climate Leaders Award recently announced by the Department for Education will help children and young people develop their skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability, and celebrate and recognise their work in protecting the local environment. Children and young people will also be encouraged to get involved in the natural world by increasing biodiversity in the grounds of their nursery, school or college, and uploading their data onto a new, virtual National Education Nature Park. We will be ensuring that the learning from the Children and Nature Programme is fed into how these initiatives are developed.

Defra is funding the £2.5 million ‘Generation Green’ project through the Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The Access Unlimited coalition, led by the Youth Hostels Association (YHA) and involving all 10 English National Parks, aims to provide more than 100,000 progressive opportunities to connect young people to nature, prioritising young people from BAME groups, disadvantaged backgrounds and coastal communities. Defra is also funding research to improve understanding of children’s engagement with Protected Landscapes.

Report recommendation

We recommend that a module on environmental sustainability be included in every apprenticeship and T Level course. The Government should consult with stakeholders during the 2021/22 academic year on how to implement this. (Paragraph 113)

Government response

Apprenticeships and T-Levels are based on occupational standards, which describe the specific knowledge, skills and behaviour required to be competent in the occupation and support entry into skilled employment. Therefore, we do not believe that a generic sustainability module across every occupational standard is appropriate.

Sustainability elements are included where occupationally relevant. To support this the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (the Institute) has published a Sustainability Framework to guide the drafting of apprenticeships content. It sets out the key themes for all employers to consider, no matter what sector they are in, to ensure that every apprenticeship can contribute to helping meet climate change goals.

The Institute has also convened the Green Apprenticeship Advisory Panel (GAAP), to advise the Institute and its stakeholders, to make sure the right skills are in place for the future workforce to deliver the green technology shift the UK needs.

Report recommendation

We recommend that the Government extend the equivalent or lower funding rule exemption to full-time STEM and geographical and environmental courses from 2022/23. (Paragraph 122)

Government response

The exemption to Equivalent or Lower-Level Qualification (ELQ) rules for students studying part-time second degrees in any STEM subject was introduced following a decline in the number of part-time students. It was felt that an extension of the ELQ exemptions was warranted to support those who chose to study part-time. In particular, prospective ELQ students who wanted to re-skill and study for career reasons may have been discouraged from study as they were not eligible for part-time fee loans.

We will consult on the detail and scope of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement, including seeking views on objectives and coverage, together with aspects such as whether restrictions on previous study should be amended to facilitate retraining and stimulate provision.

From 2025, the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE) will provide individuals with a loan entitlement equivalent to up to four years of post-18 education to use over their lifetime. It will be available for both modules and full years of study at higher technical and degree levels (levels 4 to 6), regardless of whether they are provided in colleges or universities.

As part of the pathway towards the LLE, we will trial short course provision at Levels 4–6 to support in-work adults to upskill and retrain, enabling learners to flexibly build towards a full qualification in subjects crucial for net zero including STEM and digital innovation

Report recommendation

We recommend that by the end of 2021, the Skills and Productivity Board, or similar body, is tasked with ongoing monitoring of skills needs, with regular periodic reviews, to ensure forward-looking and responsive skills planning which encompasses the needs of the economy in reaching the Government’s net zero and long-term environmental ambitions. (Paragraph 132)

Government response

The role of the Skills and Productivity Board is to provide independent, actionable insights to help shape skills policy, focusing particularly on longer-term strategic issues and how they will affect productivity.

Therefore, throughout its work, the board will consider the government’s net zero targets, alongside other factors impacting labour markets and skills. The board will continue to monitor work underway in government on green skills to ensure it considers the latest developments.

5. Diversity, inclusion and access to green jobs

Report recommendation

By the end of 2021, the Government should set out its ambitions for improving diversity and inclusion in the green workforce and set out how it will measure diversity and inclusion in green jobs, for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating progress towards its aims. (Paragraph 140)

Government response

As set out within the ‘Green Jobs, Skills, and Industries’ chapter of our Net Zero Strategy, we will continue to engage with and encourage industry to ensure there is equal opportunity for all to work in the green economy.

To support this work, and monitor our progress, it is vital that we continue to develop the evidence on how net zero will impact jobs and skills. The Office for National Statistics will seek to refine our understanding and measurement of the green economy as the UK transitions to net zero, including looking at such issues as quality of work and diversity within the green economy.

Alongside this, we will continue to work with green employers to raise awareness of the opportunities in the green economy through an integrated careers information, advice and guidance offer through schools, colleges, universities, and employers to raise awareness of different career pathways in low carbon sectors.

To further break down perceived barriers to working in the energy sector, boost diversity and increase STEM skills, our Build Back Better campaigns will seek to inspire people from all walks of life to work in the green economy, and raise awareness of green education, training, and careers.

Report recommendation

The Government’s green jobs and just transition delivery plans should include analysis of the enabling infrastructure needed for people to access new green jobs, and allocate actions to the departments with responsibilities over this infrastructure.
(Paragraph 145)

Government response

Work is underway across government to identify and address barriers to recruitment, retention and progression in the labour market. We are working with employers and sector bodies to provide support to overcome barriers such as transport and connect jobseekers with jobs, including green jobs.

Report recommendation

By the end of 2021, the Government should set out how it will adapt its Careers Strategy to align with its net zero and environmental goals, including how it will reach different groups of the population to increase awareness of green job opportunities and how to access them, such as through its careers and youth hubs and Jobcentre Plus.
(Paragraph 155)

Government response

We currently do not plan to update the careers strategy as it has been superseded by our Skills for Jobs white paper, which was published in January 2021.

The white paper offers us an opportunity to create an enhanced careers programme, which we expect to be delivered in line with current government priorities, including its net zero and environmental goal.

DWP is working across government, including with BEIS, and directly with industry, to identify green job opportunities and to promote them to jobseekers through our network of jobcentres, youth hubs and flexible interventions. We are also working to ensure that the right skills and wider employment support are in place to support people into green jobs.


Footnotes

1 ONS 2020, https://www.ons.gov.uk/releases/lowcarbonandrenewableenergyeconomyuk2019

2 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/net-zero-in-the-north-east-of-england-regional-transition-impacts