Caught between a global pandemic and an increasingly pressing climate crisis, small and medium-sized enterprises alike are exploring new ways to prepare for the future.
The UK government has set out an ambitious target to become net carbon zero by 2050, a much-needed move that will require a great shift in the way we do business and plan our targets.
While the need for new skills primarily impacts the technology and energy sector, all industries are inevitably affected by the rise in consumers’ eco-friendly attitudes and the governmental regulations that are yet to come.
As a result, green careers are on the rise.
For companies that are planning to grow strategically and sustainably, green apprenticeships are bound to become a must, especially if their aim is to become thought leaders in their sector and forward-thinking authorities for the wider community around them.
So, let’s take a look at how you can start incorporating more sustainable apprenticeship roles and make your move towards net zero, starting from zero!
What are green apprenticeships?
Green apprenticeships are designed to give our workforce and future workforce the skills needed to meet sustainability goals and help slow down climate change.
The Institute for Apprenticeships is one of the bodies on the frontline of these efforts, working in close partnership with the government’s Green Jobs Taskforce. Their green advisory panel has created a new way to categorise apprenticeships according to their impact on sustainability.
Using three different shades of green (light green, mid-green, and dark green), this ranking helps understand how the occupation in question will impact the rising green economy.
Light green occupations are jobs that do not directly affect climate change, even though they present many areas for improvement, such as everyday duties that could be performed more sustainably.
Mid-green occupations can play a part in our journey towards carbon neutrality, while dark green jobs directly reduce our emissions and have sustainability at the very core of their purpose.
What can companies do to promote greener change?
The shift to more sustainable jobs is going to be a slow and careful process.
Green opportunities, whether in apprenticeships or full-time employment, are still quite limited as the business world is still contending with its carbon footprint.
But as most occupations do tend to fall in the light green category, we all have a role we can play to make our future more sustainable.
In addition to finding precious gaps where roles could be covered by a green apprenticeship, the Institute for Apprenticeships has advised that existing apprenticeships could already be made greener.
For example, any apprenticeship in a supply role has the potential to become more environmentally friendly by changing transportation methods and suppliers. In the hair and beauty industry, changing the type of chemicals used and the way they are disposed of can make a tangible difference in our carbon footprint.
If you don’t know where to start, here are some key steps everyone can take to start creating a more sustainable workplace and greener apprenticeships:
1. Raise awareness
Whether it’s making a pledge or distributing educational materials throughout your company, there is always an opportunity to help raise awareness of current environmental issues and future goals.
Showing interest in sustainability efforts will help foster curiosity and educate current employees and apprentices, as well as attracting green-minded talent for a future-proof, sustainable business.
2. Audit your business
Take a look at your current processes to pinpoint areas of improvement and gaps that could be filled by environmental experts.
While auditing for sustainability prepares you for a long-term plan, apprentices should be part of this conversation as precious future talent, and they could help identify more efficient and sustainable ways of operating.
You never know the knowledge they might have!
3. Implement changes
Finally, see if you can start making any changes to your processes, no matter how small, making sure to involve apprentices and employees alike.
Can you change the type of materials you use in favour of carbon neutral or plastic-free alternatives? Can you start implementing a Cycle to Work scheme, or even change your energy provider to one fully committed to clean energy?
These initiatives will not only help you do your bit for our carbon net zero goal, but they will also foster the type of attitude the world needs from the future workforce.
More and more apprentices are exploring their work opportunities looking for sustainability as a core value in their chosen industry, believing that eco-conscious companies will be future-proof companies.
Any amount of education and practical changes to the way you operate your business will make an impact. Sustainability is all about taking small, yet consistent steps to make a final bigger leap, together!