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7 March 2022

National Careers Week 2022: Why we need green skills today for the workforce of tomorrow

By Asi Panditharatna
As part of National Careers Week, Forward's Executive Director of Employment Services Asi Panditharatna shares his reflections on the importance of green skills and careers in building the workforce of the future.

This week at The Forward Trust we are celebrating National Careers Week 2022. This year across Forward’s employment directorate we are focusing on supporting people to:

  • Take control of their careers
  • Explore and learn more about new opportunities
  • Dream big and aspire for a great career
  • Believe in themselves

At Forward we believe that with the right support anyone is capable of bringing about and sustaining positive change in their lives.

Green Skills and Careers

Last year we started to teach green skills as part of our new Adult Education Budget programmes in London and Kent. We are now proud to be promoting an exciting range of Green Career Pathways, including apprenticeship roles in sustainability and jobs in sustainable construction.

As part of our green agenda, last month it was great to take part of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers Green Skills Summit. The summit outlined the green skills agenda and raised awareness of green issues. It focused on the practical steps needed to drive the demand for green skills from learners and employers. I was invited to be on the panel to discuss “are we ready to deliver the workforce of tomorrow?” along with Simon Bozzoli from LDN Apprenticeships, Graham Duxbury from Groundwork and Patrick Craven from City and Guilds. The takeaways that stuck with me from the panel discussion were:

  • Green employment and jobs should be broadly defined so that learners and participants better understand the roles. For example, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) considers green employment to include activities such as community adaptation to climate change.
  • We know people want to make a positive difference through their employment. A global survey by Bath University found that 60% of young people are worried about climate change and want to do something about it. However, 70% of our learners from disadvantaged backgrounds say they have very limited knowledge of sustainability or awareness of the climate emergency. This can be compounded by preoccupation with other issues including unemployment or underemployment, poor housing, a lack of access to digital technology etc. As a sector we need to do more to make green skills and jobs equitable for all.
  • From day one, careers advice should be embedded into training so that learners or participants are aware of green job and apprenticeship opportunities. We know other organisations agree – the GLA Green Skills Adult Education Provision in London report supports this: ‘employers in all sectors felt that it was important to focus the adult education budget on developing long term career pathways for individuals with a broad range of skills, rather than short term jobs for particularly green tasks’. Better is possible. We are already working with Thames Water to offer apprenticeships and collaborating with other partners such as LDN apprenticeships to promote sustainable apprenticeships and employment.
  • Careers advice must be aspirational and help learners build the stepping-stones to realise their ambitions. In my experience, the base is set too low for people from disadvantaged groups. We can all do more to raise the bar.
  • Employers are critical to the success of skills and training programmes. On our programmes we offer opportunities for enrichment through employer involvement. This is a chance for employers to talk about their organisation’s missions and values and why they are keen to tackle the climate emergency. We encourage learners and participants to network with these employers, as well as offering opportunities for sector-based work academies, work experience, tasters and mentoring. We expect all our partner employers to align with the Good Work Standards and where possible be signed up to the Real Living Wage – giving people sustainable and equitable work opportunities.

We also heard from two former Forward Trust learners on why they had undertaken the green skills training with us. Training graduate Ismail Bentil shared this inspiring message:

I can experience beauty in the world because of the people before me and we must do the same for people in the future

Ismail Bentil, Forward Trust Learner

The conference was a great opportunity to reflect and share learning across the sector. As a result we will definitely be making improvements to our own programmes. In particular, we will be focusing on those behaviours required to succeed in the green or sustainability sectors where good communication, planning, customer service and project management qualities are critical to success.

You can find out more about the Green Skills Summit in this FE News article by Kathryn Porter, Partnerships Director at Metaverse Learning.

Forward deliver apprenticeships and are developing partnerships with employers for the Safety, Health and Environmental Technician Apprenticeship Standard aligned to the Green Jobs sector. Employers, speak to us if you’re looking for apprentices or would like to partner with us! Contact

Keep an eye on social media this Careers Week for more information about the work we do and to hear from learners who have been supported by us.

Asi Panditharatna is the Executive Director of Employment Services at The Forward Trust and oversees IAG, employability, vocational training, enterprise, apprenticeships and social enterprises services.

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