UCU calls for urgent investment in green skills
The Business Secretary Vince Cable, now persuaded of an “active” role for government in industrial policy, would do well to pick up the issue of skills for a low carbon economy. There is no obvious green skills plan. Unemployment is at a 17-year high, but as the union-led Green Skills Manifesto argues:
“The current reliance on a ‘market driven’ approach has not and will not deliver the training and green skills required.”
Launched by the Greener Jobs Alliance (GJA) at the TUC’s Green Skills conference in Taunton, the Manifesto sets out the essential components of a strategy for the UK to achieve the transition to a low-carbon economy. The Manifesto calls for:
- A minister to take lead responsibility for green skills to directly co-ordinate a training strategy that involves colleges and universities, employers and trade unions.
- An increase in the number of apprenticeships for low-carbon industries
- The expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) university courses.
Defra research published way back in 2009 warned that the UK had a green skills gap which was slowing its transition to a low-carbon economy. But neither this nor the previous administration has addressed its key conclusion, that the present employer-led model of skills provision is not meeting our future skills needs.
The founding members of the GJA are the University and College Union, TUC, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, National Union of Students, People & Planet, and the Institute of Public Policy Research. The UCU, the largest trade union for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers in further and higher education, has led the work on the Manifesto. UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, argues that with unemployment at a record high “there is huge potential for our low-carbon industries to generate jobs and opportunities that the country so desperately needs.”
Investing in green skills and jobs will help get the UK back on track economically and help fight climate change. This manifesto is an important starting point for the UK to achieve its stated aim of becoming a low-carbon economy. The UK’s future is not as a low-wage, low-skill economy and we need to invest now in the industries that will see us emerge as a dominant force in the future. The TUC has raised concerns over cuts in central funding for FE and skills.
Our colleges and universities are uniquely placed to provide green skills training but they must be given the necessary funding to do so.