A Parliamentary report says the Government risks falling behind on crucial Net Zero job pledges. Mike Hughes reports

THE Environmental Audit Committee may not be one that has a particularly high profile in the North East outside the offices of our CEOs and board members.

But its latest report out today will get much wider attention as it slams the Government for putting at risk so much Net Zero progress by leaving a yawning skills chasm through inconsistent policy which confuses rather than leads.

The Committee exists to look at government policies and programmes, make sure they contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to check their performance against targets.

In its latest report, Green Jobs, members express disappointment that despite announcements committing millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, the Government hasn't even defined what a ‘green job’ is, and how it will evaluate the perceived demand.

Read more: Government chooses Teesside to lead green energy revolution

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: “From renewable energy clusters in the North East and Scotland, to engineering powerhouses in the Midlands and nature conservation in the South West, we are building an economy set for net zero.

“But the workforce of the future is being undermined by a lack of evidence-based Government policies on how jobs will be filled in green sectors. Encouraging announcements of investment in green sectors of the economy are very welcome but the Government admits that claims about green jobs lack explanation and data on how the targets will be achieved.

The committee says the Net Zero Strategy, which claims to support up to 440,000 jobs by 2030, would have been the ideal opportunity to offer clarity on how to define and measure what ‘green jobs’ are.

"While the Strategy set out the Government’s green jobs and skills ambitions, what is needed now is a detailed, actionable delivery plan. Delay in clarifying this information could lead to the Government’s ambitions amounting to an aspiration, and failing to prepare the UK for the future."

What reports like this say and what influence they have are crucial to the North East - with Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen rightly banging the drum very loudly for the huge jobs potential here and in many other regions if game-changing plans can become reality.

But local boldness needs national support to keep pace, and this report suggest that is not happening.

Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser at the North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “We agree on the need for more clarity on what is meant by the term ‘green jobs.’ Also as well as this definition, in our view for sustainability sector jobs to have the desired impact, it is important the opportunities are accessible to a large proportion of those at risk of unemployment.

“The public sector investments announced include £8.8 billion in infrastructure and decarbonisation projects. Within this is a £3 billion green investment project which aims to create 140,000 of these ‘green jobs’ through retrofitting buildings to better meet carbon reduction targets.

The Northern Echo: Niamh Corcoran, policy adviser at the NEECCNiamh Corcoran, policy adviser at the NEECC

“However, more action is needed from government to ensure that the talent pipeline is established to fill green jobs. It is vital that sustainability is embedded within the curriculum and that the low-carbon sector is a core focus within careers education.

"If the Government’s aim to create a green jobs economy is to be realised, we must ensure that the future workforce is fully engaged in the sector from a young age and are aware of the opportunities available. Ensuring that green jobs are embedded within Government schemes, such as Kickstart, is crucial.

“In addition, there must be proactive attempts from Government to engage more diverse talent pools. Without action, there is a risk that the talents of girls and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds will not be tapped into and, as a result, it will not be possible to create the diverse workforce necessary to sustain the future green economy.”

Swift reactions and long-term commitments are the only way forward here to persuade future workers the North East is still the place to build a Net Zero career.


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