This article was originally published in The Herald – Fix Your Sights on Jobs in the Green World of Work.
Young people want to be at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency. They will be most affected by it, so it’s natural that they want to make a major contribution to solving it. In order to meet the targets and implement the commitments as outlined in The Paris Agreement, we must invest and educate the current, next and future workforce. It is essential that we spark their interest and outline the vast and diverse opportunities that the green economy will bring.
My Climate Path was officially launched on Friday 17 September, 2021. It aims to showcase and inform around the skills needed for these jobs of the future, with a focus on those entering the workforce or those looking to retrain or upskill.
The education package is being delivered by the Livingston-based Verdancy Group. It works with education, business and communities to offer an innovative range of teaching materials and courses to build the skills needed for the future.
My Climate Path is the brainchild of Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) Glasgow along with DYW Lanarkshire and East Dunbartonshire and DYW West. It will involve some 110 schools in total.
The package will provide a first springboard in relation to the educational legacy of COP26. “This is just the beginning, but it certainly paves the way for the next generation to engage in the biggest global challenge of our time, and allows our businesses to be assured that the right skills for their future business models are in the pipeline,” says Alison McRae, who is senior director of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.
Steven Kiakowski, Director of The Verdancy Group, says: “There are a lot of resources out there, but sometimes they can be difficult to access. People may not be sure that they are relevant for a particular age group or in terms of the message.
“We started with a clear ambition, to create a journey, a programme that would be personal to them, whilst taking further a number of clear objectives in relation to Net Zero and Just Transition. It was important, in response to the consultation that we produced a package that was easy to access and deliver in the form of bite size modules that staff and students could utilise in the many different ways.
“The platform and programme have been designed and delivered in a way that allows us to be agile and responsive to different organisations or networks. Our passion and determination to support communities and the third sector, gives a fantastic playground for the collaboration of minds and expertise.”
A dedicated My Climate Portal (graphic opposite) has been created for users to access the three packages – My Climate Impact, My Climate Opportunity and My Climate Commitment. The My Climate Path web site (www.myclimatepath.scot) discusses some of the career opportunities available for young people.
“The working group wanted to take this further, make it more than just an awareness piece’’, Steven Kiakowski adds, “it had to be about something, a real commitment. We’ve provided visuals and more information as well as click-through activities. We’ve really tried to make it interactive and real for the user.
“Most students taking the course will be directed to it by their teachers or via a DYW representative – we hope that as many young people as possible are able to be part of and complete the programme. Initially the package will support those within the 110 secondary schools, upskilling staff and equipping students with the tools and resources to perhaps become climate ambassadors themselves.”
He stresses that the My Climate Path modules are upbeat and optimistic. “Our experience working with young people, make it clear to us that the continuing external painting of Doomsday climate reality is now working. We need to show the opportunities for young people and allow them the dedicated time to research and understand their possible path to a green job. Make it as simple as possible for a young person to understand what next steps they need to take in order to make a green job a reality.’’
As part of the course, students will consider a number of areas of sustainability from fashion to construction, food and the environment. The portal will also ask for feedback and comments from both the staff supporting the learning and the users themselves.
“We want learners to accept, understand and then commit. These three aspects are critical to its success.” Steven Kiakowski says that he wants the students taking the course – which will be a choice for most – to really consider climate change and climate reality as an opportunity.
“I also want them to think about how they can make a difference, to understand what the opportunities might look like – whether they be in construction, hospitality or retail – and to make a commitment. They can also ask how they can be supported to make the right choice.” In order to help them prepare, the package will first be delivered to both teaching and DYW staff. While it will initially be rolled out in the West of Scotland, The Verdancy Group believes that it should ultimately be offered nationally. “That is certainly our ambition.”
Will it really make a difference to the students? Mr Kiakowski believes it will. “At present, young people might speak to their teachers or careers advisers and tell them the sector in which they’d like to work. Those advisers will have lots of information about how they can join a relevant course – in construction, say – within a college, but they won’t have a really simplified explanation of the next steps so the students can clearly understand or research what is needed to start thinking about green or sustainable jobs.”
The My Climate Path package his company has created, he adds, contains the resources and tools needed to signpost the way to career opportunities. “In a sense, it’s almost like a jobs fair. “If they are interested in working in hospitality, for instance, they can go and look at the jobs that are in that sector right now and the ones that will exist in the future. “It will also point to the skillsets they need.”
Steven Kiakowski adds: “This programme is really a benchmark and statement of intent for The Verdancy Group and its people. The entire team, our subject matter, educationalists and digital experts have produced a package that we can all be extremely proud of.
The team are supporting a number of similar programmes currently and the success of My Climate Path will not only raise awareness of the skillset and potential we have, but reinforce the ambition and drive we have to succeed. I’ve wanted us to deliver really high quality learning content and we now have that.”