Partners from across South West Wales came together to discuss some new initiatives to support the development of green skills across a variety of sectors.
This roundtable is part of a series of conversations focused on the region’s green economy. The Green Economy Conference, happening in November, aims to bring together businesses and organisations to discuss the growth of the green economy in South West Wales. This roundtable featured discussions on various projects and initiatives related to skills development in areas such as renewable energy, construction, digital sector, and more.
The focus is on preparing young people for future green careers, raising awareness about the opportunities in the green economy, and bridging the skills gap in the industry. Collaboration and working together across the region are seen as crucial for success.
The projects, initiatives and themes are captured in the event report below.
Projects, Initiatives and Themes
Rob Holdcroft, Development Coordinator for the Regional Learning and Skills Partnership.
- A number of projects have been authorised via the Swansea Bay City Deal Skills and Talent programme.
- The Pembrokeshire Passport to Employment project will teach students between 5 – 19 year old about the renewable sector and opportunities within the sector.
- The Low Carbon Net Zero Awareness Raising pilot will raise awareness of zero and low carbon technologies in the construction sector.
- The Digital Sector pilot in Neath Port Talbot will demonstrate the need for enhanced digital skills in the green and renewables sector.
- The Swansea University-led Battery Manufacturing Skills pilot will build on skill gaps in battery manufacturing and supply chain by providing training, upskilling, and re-skilling to higher skilled students and the local workforce.
- All of these projects and more have come from research to identify skills gaps and new skills that will be required for a greener economy.
- We need to engage industry. We can create skills, and a skilled workforce but if those jobs aren’t available because industry isn’t moving at the pace they need to, it could create stagnation. We need the industry to move on this as well.
Kathryn Dunstan, Director of Partnerships, NPTC Group
- We’re seeing changes that are leading to uncertainty. We’re finding it difficult to pin down what’s going to be needed. There’s a lot of opportunities but nothing is quote tangible yet.
- How can we prepare for something we don’t really know for certain how it might look like in each of our regions?
- We’re involved in managing and supporting the training programs for the Homes as Power Stations project and developing resources for schools and colleges to share.
- The college will launch the Net Zero Academy in the Autumn. We need adult learners and upskilling of existing employees to immediately fill the short term gaps in labour markets at the moment.
- The Academy will also showcase the career pathways possible for younger learners and that green careers can be developed.
Andrew Selby, Electrical Commercial Coordinator, Gower College Swansea
- Preparing young people is the right way to go, particularly primary school-level.
- We’re seeing a massive demand for upskilling, with over 300 people taking the Solar PV and Battery Charging Course course over the last 18 months.
- It’s crucial to understand what’s required from a school level and how that feeds in to higher level skills.
- There’s an urgent need for something like a renewables apprenticeship and pathway for higher degrees. Upskilling is good for supporting the market, but we need to identify needs and what pathways and career developments are available for young people.
Donna Griffiths, Business Development Manager, Bouygues
- There’s a need for more education around parents, teachers and influencers such as Careers Wales staff.
- Green skills and green jobs are relatively new terminologies and parents are unsure about how to encourage their children and transferability of skills within colleagues to consider it as a long term career.
- Refurbishment and repurposing of buildings is a key business line because of Net Zero Carbon aspirations.
Bouygues is working with the RLSP to deliver hands-on, real world life experiences to a cohort of young people in Llanelli, providing an opportunity to be part of the Pentre Awel project.
- There are pockets of really good practice, but it isn’t widespread. A lot of it comes down to businesses that want to be more forward thinking, but may be hampered by contracts and what public sector demands.
Arwyn Williams, Head of Faculty for Engineering, Computing, Construction & HE, Pembrokeshire College
- Pembrokeshire College have engaged with two secondary schools to deliver a GCSE equivalent program to learn about renewable energy within industry.
- The local Education Authority is leading on a skills barometer working with primary schools. Pembrokeshire college is developing materials to fit in with the new curriculum for Wales and to raise awareness of opportunities in the green sector.
- Engaging with parents is equally as important as engaging with children from a young age. Parents need to understand the potential careers their children could go for.
- Pembrokeshire College is working with the Seren Network to provide more activities across the region.
- They are hosting a robotics club for primary and secondary school leaners to learn about coding robots from basic to advanced functions.
- Destination Renewables is a pioneering program delivered to 16 to 18 year olds to engage them with industry partners and learn about a range of jobs from project management, procurement to engineering and construction.
- The college has recently gained funding to roll out similar programs across the region so local colleges can engage with local industries relevant to them and their area.
- There’s a lot of activity happening in the region in regards to green energy. There are many companies in the region that are really struggling to recruit individuals with the skills.
Bruce Fellowes, Head of GCS Training, Gower College Swansea
- Gower College’s Energy Centre is involved in a lot of renewable skills, such as solar, thermal, air source, ground source heat pumps, Solar PV charging.
- The Energy Centre also offers battery storage, electrical vehicle charging and service in e-bike maintenance.
- We’re looking to expand into wind turbines and hydrogen by sharing practice with Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.
- Staff are currently on courses themselves to understand these new technologies more because it’s ever-changing.
- We need to become more involved with schools and parents. Parents can be very influential in what their children do.
- If parents have a better understanding about green skills and green careers, then that can help with younger ages making career choices.
Rachel Cook, CWIC, UWTSD
- We work closely with contractors and industry to understand what needs are. How can we address the needs imminently, and understand green career pathways?
- Within CWIC, we’ve been focusing on how we can address industry needs immediately, especially with the focus on climate change.
- We’re looking at existing job roles and getting them to understand the importance of their role within the bigger picture.
- We’re focusing on new build and retrofit and creation of a suite of eight mini-courses consisting of a range of green construction skills.
We want to give hands-on training. We’re giving the up to date information with industry experts. We’ve consulted with HE and FE across Wales, as content and connections are developed it can be more widely used.
- Given the climate crisis and where the skills crisis is with industry, we need to change the culture, so that we do work together and come forward because of the urgency that changes need to happen now.
Sue Poole, Young Dragons
- We’ve just completed our Swansea Enterprise Challenge, with over 500 young people going to Castle Square to sell the wares they’ve been making in school.
- There was an unbelievable amount of children with a focus on climate change. Many were making products out of reusable materials, growing plants, etc.
- The new project Futurescape is a new initiative aimed at tackling future skills shortages within the building services sector.
- The project will see VR used in the classroom to introduce young people to the variety of roles within the construction sector they may not be aware of.
- It’s possible that many of the jobs that these young people will be taking possibly don’t exist as yet.
- We need to engage with teachers and parents to introduce them to skills needed in the future.
This roundtable was part of a series that bring together experts to discuss the green economy relating to a number of themes. These roundtables were held in the run-up to the Regional Green Economy Conference 2023, taking place on the 22nd November.
The Regional Green Economy Conference is a major regional conference and exhibition, new for 2023, bringing together projects, businesses, organisations and key stakeholders in South West Wales’ green economy, together with people of all ages and from all walks of life, for an unmissable day of connecting, showcasing and knowledge sharing, with the goal of getting everyone working together for a resilient, sustainable future for the region.