Joanne Patrickson, Project Director at WYCC reflects on the North Green Skills Conference in October 2023.
Leaving Manchester after a highly successful North Green Skills Conference, I felt a there was a lot of shared opinion in the room and a thread in every discussion throughout the day.
To address the climate emergency, we need to tackle the ‘skills emergency,’ together, now.
There is no simple answer, no single pot of funding to kick start this work, no magic wand to make this happen overnight, no blueprint for solving the issues we face. It is going to take hard work, collaboration and true engagement between education and business to achieve our common goal.
There was also a keen sense of urgency in the room. This sense was sharpened when we heard a passionate and poignant talk from Edie Lewis from the Regional Youth Climate Assembly for Yorkshire who stated quite clearly that involving young people in this process should not be a ‘tick box’ exercise but should inform policy, strategy and action. Edie said, “We are not just the future, we are the present,” a statement that has rung in our ears since.
Our teachers and trainers need the skills and equipment to be able train the current and future workforce to manage the demand for technical changes in industry. We also need to work together to build an understanding of the climate crisis and the impact that individuals and businesses can make, whilst making ‘green careers’ a desirable and understandable option for young people.
The day’s delegates all recognised that to upskill the workforce, we need to upskill our teachers. This is a huge challenge for FE (Further Education). Recruitment into FE teaching competes with recruitment into industry where, quite often, salaries are more attractive.
Re-training existing teaching staff is crucial. At the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, we have adopted a model for collaborative learning and CPD (Continued Professional Development), including teaching methods and specialist skills in EV and retrofit in the last year, utilising DfE (Department for Education) funds. This model can be replicated and shared, but resourcing is a key issue. As the green consortium we will continue to lobby and bid for appropriate funding to act.
Conference Chair, Steve Frampton from the Association of Colleges wrapped up the day by listing the ‘ingredients’ needed to progress - culture, collaboration, co-construction, curriculum, clarity, consistency and courage plus the need for capital and policy.
We were delighted to be headline sponsors of the day. It was great to be associated with an event that brought a group of people together who really can make a difference. We have made some excellent contacts, re-engaged with others, and look forward to working together to take the green skills agenda forward in the north.
If we want to protect the future, we must transform the present.