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Making jobs green is crucial next step, says ARU study – not making green jobs



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A new Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) report finds that companies are expecting all employment roles to require skills in a ‘green’ economy, with the adaptation of existing roles to a new ethos rather than the creation of specifically ‘green jobs’.

Jobs from housing development to plumbing to taxi companies are adapting to the need to go green. Picture: PA Photo/iStock
Jobs from housing development to plumbing to taxi companies are adapting to the need to go green. Picture: PA Photo/iStock

Produced by ARU and commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Covid-19 recovery group, the study involved in-depth interviews with businesses to understand how they see both the local economy and society changing post-pandemic.

Some jobs will always require specialist training, such as nursing and engineering but, for non-specialist roles, businesses envisage recruiting employees based on holistic skills – how they think and what they can do, rather than what they know.

The government’s new Green Jobs Taskforce is tasked with creating two million green jobs by 2030, focusing on the environmental goods and services sector, but ARU’s research team widened the pool by looking at a broader range of existing businesses. These businesses reported that all sectors will need to become greener, requiring green skills and green mindsets.

Many businesses also no longer see knowledge as being as important as how their employees think and act. They expect a skills shortage within the next one to five years, and consider that the greater connectivity brought about by the growth in remote working during the pandemic is reducing the dependency on geography. They also believe this may ease problems related to recruitment in high-cost locations such as Cambridge.

An analysis of the responses shows Covid-19 to be a disrupter, responsible for accelerating changes which would otherwise have happened over a longer timeframe. Businesses have identified this as an opportunity to ‘build back better’ as they transition to going green.

A Generic Photo of items for recyclling. See PA Feature HOMES Sustainability. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/iStock. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HOMES Sustainability... (47627580)
A Generic Photo of items for recyclling. See PA Feature HOMES Sustainability. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/iStock. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature HOMES Sustainability... (47627580)

Business leaders spoke of looking to implement greener supply chains by introducing environmentally friendly packaging and buying locally to reduce their carbon footprints, moving to lower-emission processes, and choosing low carbon/green materials when making infrastructure investment decisions.

Report co-author Dr Alison Grieg, of ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute, said: “All participants, regardless of their sector, recognised the importance of a transition to a cleaner, fairer economy and society in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

“None of the organisations we spoke to directly provide goods or services to the environmental sector, so are not in a ‘green industry’, but they are all committed to ensuring their organisations become greener.

“We found that putting too much focus on creating new green jobs is likely to under-estimate other sectors’ contributions and skills requirements. Too much emphasis on new green jobs may lead to certain sectors feeling excluded or disenfranchised from this important transition.

“These findings are also really important for education and training providers, as they demonstrate a need to ‘green’ all curricula, rather than just add new ones.”

Participating businesses were Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, G’s, Baker Perkins, Redgate Software, Turners (Soham), Chiltern Cold Storage Group, Hill, Abcam, and Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group.

The findings of the report are being used to help shape the development of courses at the new ARU Peterborough, opening in September 2022, with green skills embedded across the curriculum.

Professor Ross Renton, principal of ARU Peterborough, said: “We are already having discussions with over 100 local businesses and are keen to work with more to ensure that green skills become embedded across all sectors of our economy.”

More Green Skills Report 2021 details here.



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