Apprenticeships are expected to be essential for the UK’s energy sector to meet the growing demand for people with the skills to develop and progress the country’s green economy.
Writing for FE News, Sally-Anne Dudley, UK head of learning at National Grid, revealed that the organisation’s research indicates that the UK will need to fill 400,000 green jobs if the country is to meet the government’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.
She stressed that there needs to be a “countrywide and sector focus on getting the right people trained up and in place in order to deliver these plans”.
The scope of these green jobs is vast, as Ms Dudley explained, noting that people will need to be trained to do everything from installing hydrogen boilers to using AI technology to predict weather patterns.
It is also important that organisations, such as National Grid, are able to communicate the benefits of an apprenticeship in the sector to young people. Ms Dudley pointed to research showing that among young adults aged 18 to 24, working in a job that helps tackle climate change is one of the most popular options.
She also explained why companies working in green industries can benefit from hiring apprentices, rather than only relying on other recruitment options.
Employers are constantly having to adapt to the changing business landscape and it’s increasingly important that they are able to anticipate future skills gaps, she said. “Apprentices are a great way to tailor talent development in a way that will futureproof the company,” Ms Dudley concluded.
She also noted that apprenticeships are a great way for those entering the workforce to network and build relationships with their peers as well as role models within an organisation. These relationships in turn often result in someone who completes an apprenticeship staying with an organisation over the long term, rather than leaving to work elsewhere.
“This longer-term mindset can help plan for and address gaps in the workforce expected in the next five, ten and beyond years,” Ms Dudley added.
In December last year, the Institute for Apprenticeships & Technical Education announced that it was establishing a new green apprenticeships advisory panel to help ensure that this route into the sector is promoted and made a priority.
The institute explained that this new panel will both look for ways to make existing apprenticeships greener, as well as to identify skills gaps that could be filled through apprenticeship schemes.
In December, the institute called for representatives from a range of sectors to join this panel. It was seeking people from within the renewable energy, green transport, manufacturing, engineering, construction and agriculture sectors to contribute.
There is certainly set to be considerable growth within the UK’s green industries in the coming years, with the government announcing its intention to create and support two million “good quality green jobs by 2030”.
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