In November, BusinessLDN held an event hosted by Assembly Member Leonie Cooper at City Hall, in partnership with WSP on the actions required to build an inclusive and green workforce. It discussed how to overcome challenges and kickstart a green skills revolution, and considered what a compelling green skills strategy for London might look like. Here, David Symons, WSP Director, gives his reflections on the event.
Londoners in 2050 will be travelling electrically, and heating homes with heat pumps. The capital will be a greener city, and one that’s experiencing wilder weather. A city that’s at the heart of financing net zero carbon and biodiversity. A city that’s continuing to lead.
That vision needs national and local policy. It needs investment. And it needs green skills.
WSP, BusinessLDN and Leonie Cooper AM worked together to convene a major event at City Hall to plan for developing green skills. It was a positive and optimistic event, building on the recently-published London Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), led by BusinessLDN, which sets out a data-driven roadmap to achieve this goal.
There are seven key messages from the LSIP and the event on how to turbo-charge making London the capital for green skills. These are:
Growth — The number of specialist green jobs in London is forecast to double by 2030 to 505,000. In WSP, 300 of our 1600 London people are specialist environmental experts today, and that’s set to rise. Net zero is a growth story and every existing job needs green literacy and green skills, not just specialists.
Be specific – The need for green skills can sometimes be seen as a general trend. But specific green skills need breaking down into specific new jobs and exactly what new skills are needed for existing jobs, and by when. From bus mechanics to building designers; from purchasing teams to transport planners, let’s be specific
Skills for all — Training young people is important, but we also have to give the existing workforce new skills. We simply don’t have the time to wait for today’s students to feed through into the workforce. And if green skills are the new computer literacy we have to make sure that everyone is green literate.
Cut the jargon - From ISSB to TNFD, Scope 1 – 3 etc, green can come across as complex and inaccessible. It’s not difficult, but it does need clear thinking on exactly what skills are needed, and to deliver these in a plain English way.
Quality Delivery — London’s Local Skills Improvement Plan is key as this is the cross-sector plan to give all Londoners the skills they need. Skills delivery needs to be embedded in existing plans, not stand alone. These plans need to be high quality, because we don’t have the time to deliver training twice if the first time wasn’t robust.
Action – Delivering effective green skills needs action from City Hall to central government as well as by employers. And we need to get on with it. Businesses need a clear plan. Providers need to embed green skills and develop new courses faster than we are doing today.
Diversity – The green consultancy sector is great at gender diversity, but it can do more on employing people from all ethnic backgrounds. We can grow faster by recruiting from all of London’s diverse population.