We need a skilled workforce to help the UK reach its Net Zero target

The recent announcement from the Prime Minister regarding the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, giving adults across the UK the chance to take free college courses, is a welcome signal from the government, demonstrating the importance that lifetime learning plays in a person’s personal and professional development.

Here at Cadent, we believe strongly that education doesn’t stop at 18 or 21, and that a supportive environment can help everyone achieve their potential.  Throughout this Covid19 pandemic, we have worked hard to ensure that our established apprenticeship and graduate scheme has continued, with lessons going virtual and adapting our training academy in Oldham to socially distanced guidelines. Irrespective of Covid19, all our apprentices, if they pass their programme are guaranteed a role in our organisation, demonstrating our commitment to the future generation and the workforce of tomorrow.

However, we believe there are further steps government could take to help drive forward a green recovery and ensure a greener economy of the future.

Firstly, ensuring that there is a public understanding that apprenticeships are for all ages. This would help remove the current target of ‘young people’ and would increase take-up of apprenticeships to ensure a varied and more diverse intake for employers and increased employment options for employees. Last year, Cadent signed the Armed Forces Covenant and this year we created the Cadent Military Community, aimed at supporting service leavers entering the business, current reservists and those that have previously served, it’s hoped the new group will help bridge the gap between the military and civilian life. Apprenticeships can offer a route to civilian life for ex-military service people and it’s important that this is more widely understood.

Secondly, we believe significant promotion around the benefit of apprenticeships in school would help take up. Teachers and career advisors should be equipped with detailed information so that Apprenticeships are not seen as an ‘easy option’. Investment in school information and a long-term media campaign to help students understand and be proud of choosing an apprenticeship as a credible option when they do leave school is vital, including relevant information for parents.

Finally, we believe there should be a significant boost around apprenticeships supporting a career-change, targeting apprenticeships to people who are already in work. This would not only support the economy, but could target those who have lost jobs during the pandemic.

At Cadent, we are working towards a net zero future, with the development of hydrogen projects such as Hydeploy at Keele, Hynet in the north west, and supporting the hydrogen bus programme in Birmingham. A green, net zero future will require a suitably skilled workforce and we are working towards that goal and look forward to working with government to achieve this.