Woman taking notes during a training session as part of Generation UK - Hero image

Green skills training programme targets unemployed youth

Image credit: Generation UK

A UK youth employment organisation has announced a new training programme for unemployed young people that will provide the skills they need to thrive in jobs within the green sector.

The initiative, created by non-profit Generation: You Employed, UK, in partnership with London-based finance group Macquarie, is the first of its kind to offer profession-specific training for unemployed young people to enter the green sector.

The new 10-week programme, the first in a series, will equip learners with the technical and behavioural skills they need to thrive in jobs in retrofitting homes to improve their energy efficiency in the UK’s transition to net zero. According to the organisation, the training will be delivered by expert instructors and includes one-on-one mentorship for learners and active matchmaking and placement with employer partners upon completion.

Michael Houlihan, CEO at Generation UK, said: “In tackling the climate crisis we have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the economy that require specific skills that are currently in short supply. Meanwhile, youth employment has been severely impacted by the pandemic, marked by significant job losses, especially for those from underrepresented backgrounds, with entire youth employment sectors, like hospitality, being forced to shut down.

“There is now an unrivalled opportunity for us to provide a diverse group of young people with the training to enter the rapidly growing green sector. We are delighted to be working with Macquarie to fill the green jobs of the future and as a result, help the UK’s 2050 Net Zero targets.”

From March to May 2021, there were over half a million young people (aged 16 to 24) unemployed in the UK. Young people have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for two-fifths of the fall in employment since its start, a report by the Youth Futures Foundation said.

Meanwhile, the UK’s rapidly growing green sector is expected to create thousands of jobs in the coming years, with the National Grid estimating the energy sector alone must recruit 400,000 more employees to meet the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

However, organisations across sectors crucial to the green transition are already reporting difficulties recruiting – 70 per cent of employers surveyed by Generation UK find it hard sourcing people with the right skills at junior levels.

Generation UK believes the new green jobs programme will both help address youth unemployment and the skill demands for reaching net-zero targets across the UK, by providing young unemployed people with train-and-place pathways equipping them to thrive in jobs fundamental to the green transition.

The first programme to launch later this year, designed in partnership with the Retrofit Academy CIC, will train and place young people into jobs as retrofit advisors. Retrofit describes improving the energy efficiency of existing buildings with the installation of new technology and features, including insulation, heat pumps, solar panels, and smart boilers. Retrofit advisors will play a key role in this process delivering advice and help to individuals going through home retrofits and providing crucial administrative support, Generation said.

To meet the UK’s net-zero targets, a significant proportion of the UK’s 27 million homes will need to be retrofitted, with research from the Climate Change Committee and the Construction Industry Training Board estimating that over 10,000 new retrofit specific roles across a range of employers will do this by 2025 alone. Generation believes the new programme will provide an entry-level talent pipeline to meet this need.

Generation has set an ambitious target to place 80 per cent of learners from these programmes into roles within three months of completing the training across housing associations, councils, energy/utility providers, and specialist retrofit delivery and installation companies and is actively onboarding employer partners now. 100 unemployed young people will take part in the pilot programme ahead of a nationwide rollout to support upskilling across the green sector.

“With climate change one of the defining challenges of our time, as a business, we’re extremely focused on advancing practical solutions to help drive the energy transition,” said Edward Northam, head of Macquarie’s Green Investment Group in the UK and Europe. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of this, utilising our deep expertise in the green space to collaborate and deliver this pioneering project alongside Generation UK, continuing to support the UK’s energy transition and simultaneously supporting young learners into an exciting career.”

Erin Shakespeare, acting global head of the Macquarie Group Foundation, said: “Through our Covid-19 donation fund, we are seeking to stimulate economic recovery by supporting groups disproportionately affected by Covid-19. By partnering with Generation UK on the Green Jobs project, we will create meaningful opportunities for individuals who face significant barriers to employment.”

“As an organisation, we are committed to reaching net-zero operational emissions by 2051 and aligning our financing activity with the global goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. The green economy brings significant net new job opportunities for a broad spectrum of workers and sectors and we’re pleased to be involved in the design and delivery of this project.”

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