Harriet Lamb, Ashden CEO, responds to the Queen’s Speech of 11 May.
“We welcome the promised legislation on environmental targets – and promises on green jobs and lifetime skills. But the green dots need to be joined.
“We should invest in the green skills and training that will enable people to find the jobs of the future. For example, low carbon heating and home upgrades can create the local green jobs the government has promised. Without sustained investment in training for those skills, Johnson’s plans will break down quicker than a rusty old boiler.
“Pledges on lifetime skills are welcome, but the loans inevitably exclude too many and the training must be accessible to all so that neglected communities do not lose out in our transition to a low carbon economy.
“The fact is, we face a chronic shortage of construction workers and low-carbon heat engineers. For years, stop-start government schemes have discouraged businesses, colleges and potential trainees from investing time and resources in this area. The collapse of the Green Homes Grant in March was just the latest example. Now the Government must keep its promises.
“Local authorities should also play a much larger role in delivering green skills. They’re ideally placed to engage young people and small businesses, grow local economies, create a diverse workforce and tackle fuel poverty. Let’s give councils the powers and funding to create the well-paid jobs and better homes their communities want.”
- There are just 500 retrofit co-ordinators in the UK (less than 2% of the number needed), only 950 accredited heat pump installers, and only 1,300 certified retrofit installers. Ashden’s recent green skills briefing paper includes 11 recommendations for growth in retrofit and low-carbon heat – including steps to create demand, support local delivery and build workforce capacity. The paper was drawn up after consultation with sector experts across the UK.
- Innovators supporting low carbon heat and buildings can be found in the longlist for the 2021 Ashden Awards. Pioneering organisations on the list include Carbon Co-op in Manchester, which has trained over 200 installers and is working closely with Greater Manchester Combined Authority to scale up its work. Another is Warmworks, a fuel poverty initiative working with the Scottish government, which has created over 100 apprenticeships and further opportunities for SMEs. Innovator Retrofit Academy uses e-learning to widen access to training, and is actively seeking to bring more women into the industry
- Ashden offers free resources and tools that help local authorities meet their climate targets – and brings councils together to share insights and challenges.