Developing green skills

In the net carbon zero age we must all change our behaviour, Wendy Edie looks at how those in the field of learning technology can play their part

There’s a general realisation that it might already be too late to reverse climate changes resulting from the build-up of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. So, adaptation – of business processes as well as lifestyle – is now key, along with taking drastic measures to limit further adverse effects on the world’s climate.
The recent global conference – COP26 – hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, held in Glasgow, Scotland towards the end of 2021, aimed to get agreement on four issues:
To secure global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keep within reach a global rise in average temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
To adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
To mobilise finance of at least $100bn in climate finance per year from developed countries and engaging international financial institutions, along with the private and public sectors, to make trillions of dollars available to secure global net zero.
To work together to achieve these targets.
As far at the third issue is concerned, the world is currently pledging some $80bn a year – leaving a $20bn or so shortfall. While, in general, private sector firms are unlikely to have spare cash to volunteer to help meet this shortfall, many could be persuaded to contribute to this $20bn in kind. This isn’t a new idea. Back in 1990, John Cleese, along with HRH Prince Charles, starred in a 25-minute film made by Video Arts – Grime Goes Green: Your Business and the Environment – that intended to raise awareness of climate change and promote a more responsible attitude from business.
There’s no single agreed definition of the ‘net zero skills’, ‘green skills’ or ‘climate emergency skills’ that will be in greater demand as world economies change
Many companies are keen to play their part by contributing knowledge, skills and expertise and, in turn, help others contribute – in cash or kind – by adapting and helping limit further climate changes. By acknowledging that they must change the way they function so they can operate efficiently, effectively and in line with legislation and compliance regulations by introducing and maintaining a carbon neutral lifestyle and ways of working. New apps like Pawprint,  aim to engage and encourage workers to be more ‘eco-thoughtful’. The Pawprint app’s combination of behavioural science with a fun, engaging approach aims to encourage carbon-reducing habits that stick and empowers workers to fight climate change at work, home and beyond.
Apart from making operations as carbon neutral as possible organisations can also use fully renewable power, minimise water usage and use recycled or upcycled goods as well as environmentally safe cleaning products. Organisations must recognise that, to meet net zero targets, the economy needs both a skills system and a labour market that are more agile, proactive, responsive and resilient than ever before. 
So, digital learning specialists – along with universities and colleges – are providing the learning materials, training and assessments that employers need to facilitate the new generation of net zero-aligned technologies and business practices. The magnitude and rate of change now required across all economic sectors to achieve net zero demands a significant realignment and ramping up of ‘green’ skills and education provision. 
While there’s no single agreed definition of the ‘net zero skills’, ‘green skills’ or ‘climate emergency skills’ that will be in greater demand as world economies change to operating in a ‘greener’ way, higher order skills that support the development of additional skills and promote success in whatever context the future brings are timeless. So, learning materials’ producers should focus on helping their clients develop these skills – supporting learners embrace the coming changes to industry, job roles and society by, among other things, embedding life-long learning, problem solving capabilities, adaptability and resilience.
These skills can be grouped into the three broad categories of:
self-management – focusing, integrity, adapting, initiative,
social intelligence – communicating, feeling, collaborating, leading, and
innovation – curiosity, creativity, sense-making, critical thinking. 
Focusing on developing people skills in this way will help produce an agile workforce committed to quality-assessed lifelong learning which will be increasingly productive and resilient.
Wendy Edie is managing director of the digital learning and assessment specialist, eCom Learning Solutions


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