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NOCN Group's commitment to the development of green skills

By Mark Buckton

The need to act on climate change has never been more important. Leading scientists state that the world is currently on track to warm more than 3 degrees Celsius by the year 2100, a rise that will have grave consequences on communities and the natural world. The Paris Climate Agreement has set out a goal to limit global warming to 1.5C and as world leaders met for COP26 last year we heard commitments from 135 countries to achieve emissions reductions by 2030 to remain consistent with this target.

If we are to meet these ambitious targets, nations around the world will need to transition to a green economy. This means changing the way we generate energy; the way we work and the way we travel. To achieve a green economy and support green growth, we will need a workforce with the right skills. Estimates suggest that by 2030 there will be 694,000 green jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy sector across England alone.

So, what work is underway to ensure we have the skilled workforce of the future?

The UK government have mobilised £12 billion investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs in the UK and expect over three times as much private sector investment by 2030. This investment forms part of a 10-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ which includes;

  • the production of more offshore wind,
  • increasing low carbon hydrogen production,
  • advancing nuclear as a clean energy source,
  • accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and
  • making our homes, schools and hospitals greener, warmer and more energy efficient.

Organisations throughout the UK have already pledged to support the transition to low-carbon and are beginning to develop the skills to be able to meet this pledge. At NOCN Group we recognise that we have an important role to play in supporting skills development. Almost all job roles will be affected by the move towards a low-carbon economy but in different ways. To help us communicate how our 600+ qualifications, apprenticeships and courses support the jobs of the future we have categorised them as light, mid and dark green to recognise the impact that the occupation itself has in terms of scale and influence.

Light green: where the underlying intrinsic nature of the occupation is unchanged by sustainable/green requirements, but there may be additional duties that are done differently or in a consciously sustainable way.

Mid green: the principles of the occupation remain the same, but there is likely to be the need for significant new knowledge, skills and behaviours to be embedded to enable the use of new technologies and approaches.

Dark Green: an occupation which directly support the low carbon agenda such as a wind turbine engineer

Our products and qualifications range from Awards in Energy Efficiency and Sustainability which can be categorised as light green. These qualifications teach learners about the effects of climate change and how improvements in energy efficiency can be applied to any industry. At the other end of the scale, we provide the End Point Assessment for the apprentices who are maintaining and operating the vital wind power to generate our electricity.

We are already working with The IAA, The Retrofit Academy, the Optomised Retrofit training & skills group, amongst others to build the future skills needed for a Zero Carbon economy. As a Director at NOCN Group I have seen some incredible innovation from the organisations we work with in the way that they are supporting the move to a green economy. There is definitely more to do and I am excited to see how schools, colleges, businesses and local authorities continue to adapt over the coming years. If we are to tackle climate change then everyone will need to play a role and NOCN is also looking at how we can reduce our operational carbon production.

Mark Buckton is Group Director of Awarding Organisation at NOCN Group