Climate Emergency – Skills Action Plan

Livingston James’ Sophie Randles looks at the skills required if Scotland’s net-zero targets are to be achieved, and what the Scottish Government in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, is doing to close the skills gap.

In 2019, the Scottish Government agreed to the net zero target proposed by the United Nations. This defines all countries, sectors and industries must irradicate the dangerous levels of greenhouse gases they produce and balance this with the amount removed by the atmosphere, by 2045. Achieving this will be crucial in preserving the planet for future generations.

In December 2020, the Scottish Government published its own Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP) through Skills Development Scotland, which focused on the development of personnel and skills which will be required by organisations to achieve the net zero target. With Scotland striving to be a world leader in the action against climate change, this publication aims to provide organisations with key information and the resources to help accomplish this.

With climate change a relatively new economic and social challenge, there is a huge skills shortage of talent capable of designing strategies and implementing change to combat global warming. This has sparked demand for Green Skills and Climate Emergency experts to guide organisations through the new legislation and targets. Similarly to the role discussed in our Chief Sustainability Officer blog, this role is emerging and as such there is a limited number of qualified individuals in this area.

Despite the challenges of establishing this talent, this also brings a great level of opportunity for people to retrain and develop expertise. With lack of talent suggesting qualified individuals will be desperately sought after, and well compensated for their skills, there is huge incentive to consider a career in sustainability.

With the future unpredictable and limited research discussing how net zero organisations will look and operate, this role will remain prevalent even after net zero is achieved as organisations learn to navigate the new economy.

The CESAP Steering Group has developed several key priorities:

Inspiring and empowering young people to engage with the transition to net zero

This appears achievable given that younger generations are most engaged with sustainable initiatives. Gen Z(those born since 1997), are the generation whose purchase decisions are most highly influenced by their values, and in most cases the environmental cost of products and services. Engaging them in the net zero movement could be highly successful given their current engagement levels and desire to help create a more sustainable world.


Supporting transitioning and upskilling to meet emerging green jobs skills needs through the creation of a Green Jobs Workforce Academy

The Green Jobs Workforce Academy, run in partnership with My World of Work, is designed to educate people about potential sustainable career paths and provide them with learning and training resources to succeed in this field.

While this will be the official training academy set up to provide people with the skills to take on sustainability roles, it is expected that alternative organisations will also develop training programmes, qualifications and training given the anticipated popularity of this role in the future.


Helping employers and individuals to capitalise on net zero transition opportunities and facilitating behaviour change

As discussed, how organisations will operate in a net zero world is unclear, however as with every big change comes opportunity, the net zero movement will be the same. Organisations can introduce initiatives which benefit their triple bottom line (people, planet and profit). As has been evident from Gen Z, organisations which are environmentally conscious can improve their reputation, CSR and become brand of choice for eco-conscious consumers, enabling them to improve profits and market share when competitors do not embrace sustainable changes.


Driving change in the skills system: Securing the talent pipeline for future net zero jobs by aligning Work Based Learning, Further Education and Higher Education provision behind the needs of the net-zero transition

Decreasing the skills gap will require educating people from a young age about sustainability and offering sustainability courses in higher/ further education which enable people to understand the career options associated with sustainability. Some universities have already begun offering students sustainability courses linked to Geography or Business, demonstrating the significant social, economic, and physical impact global warming is presenting.

These practical strategies, if successfully achieved will develop a new workforce of sustainability experts, as well as educating people about their individual environmental impact.

Livingston James is currently partnering with Skills Development Scotland to recruit a Head of Green Skills and Climate Emergency. If this is a role which interests you, you can find out more information here.

Alternatively, if you would like to discuss hiring a similar specialist for your organisation, please contact Sophie Randles at [email protected] for a confidential discussion.

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