All jobs done in a greener way

17th June 2013

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IEMA and City & Guilds unveil groundbreaking training courses to expand environment skills

Leading organisations not only manage their impact on the environment, but increasingly take into consideration how a changing environment will affect their ability to do business in the longer-term – they no longer talk of greening operations, but of greening their entire organisation.

These business leaders also tend to consider the environment across all parts of the value chain, from the way products, for example, are designed and manufactured, to the way they are distributed and sold. And, as the environment touches all parts of an organisation so all employees need to be able to play their part in driving environmental goals.

That means managers and supervisors need to understand how the environment sits in finance, procurement or logistics, for example, and the workforce understand the practical steps it can take to support environmental sustainability.

For many years, IEMA has been calling for employees – at every level of responsibility, across all areas of business and industry – to be armed with environment knowledge.

In his evidence in 2009 to the House of Commons environmental audit committee’s enquiry on green jobs and skills, Martin Baxter, IEMA’s executive director of policy, told MPs: “Green jobs and skills will be vital in the transition to a low-carbon and resource efficient economy. This agenda isn’t just about creating new green jobs, important though they are; it is about ensuring that all jobs are being undertaken in a much greener way.” That aim may now become a reality.

Mainstreaming environment knowledge across the economy

Baxter’s reference to “all jobs” points to a training issue of global proportions. To help this skills revolution and deliver tailored, relevant, high quality environmental training for all workers, IEMA has joined forces with respected training provider City & Guilds to launch a new suite of courses for non-environment staff.

This tiered collection of three courses aims to make environment knowledge and understanding a “mainstream” element of every role in every business across the world. Targeted according to the employees’ level of seniority, there are two formal qualifications:

  • Working with environmental sustainability – aimed at the whole workforce, this level 2 qualification (equivalent to BTEC first diplomas, for example) provides employees in any role with the knowledge to do their job in a greener way to support organisational goals.
  • Managing with environmental sustainability – aimed at managers and supervisors, this level 4 qualification (equivalent to BTEC professional diplomas, for example) provides an operational and strategic understanding of the environment and the way that it affects a team or function.

IEMA and City & Guilds are also offering senior managers a chance to develop their environment knowledge, through strategy sessions entitled “Leading with environmental sustainability”. These aim to give senior executives, board members and investors a strategic understanding of the risks and opportunities presented by a changing environment and an organisation’s ability to do business.

Better for business and better for the environment

Jonathan Nobbs, IEMA’s head of partnership, who led the development of the courses, believes their introduction is a game changing moment. “IEMA has always set the standard for environment professionals, and the time has come to set the environmental standard for all jobs,” he says.

“Employers need to know that they’re buying the best and the partnership with City & Guilds provides that; formal qualifications, made by IEMA, the leading voice in the environment, powered by the most widely recognised brand in vocational qualifications.”

City & Guilds also recognise the launch of these courses and qualifications as a momentous occasion, one that will further cement its global reputation as a forward-looking and leading body for learning and development.

“These qualifications and associated training courses really are a unique proposition and there is no doubt that there is a market for tiered environmental training of this quality that also offers those in operational and managerial roles a qualification,” said Steve Hewitt, head of employer propositions at City & Guilds.

“For us, IEMA brings the environmental expertise and we bring the ability to deliver robust qualifications at scale. I believe that through our partnership with IEMA we have boosted not only our own position as market leaders but given businesses around the world a valuable solution.”

Piloting the courses

Although officially launched in June 2013, the courses underwent a rigorous piloting process during 2012. The pilot attracted some recognisable corporate names from UK business and industry, including Royal Mail, BAE Systems, Carillion and Wilkinson, plus a major energy supplier.

The pilot sessions were delivered in-house by existing IEMA-approved training provider EEF and received a hugely positive response from the “very enthusiastic” delegates (see below for more information).

Greg Roberts, who delivered each of the pilot courses, says that EEF instantly recognised the value of adding these innovative courses to its existing IEMA provision. “Many organisations have trained their environment professionals but the leadership they demonstrate can only go so far if those within the enterprise are not engaged on the business risks and opportunities that the environment presents,” he says.

“These qualifications complete the EEF portfolio and we see a real growth area in helping organisations to embed, and therefore maximise the benefits of, environmental sustainability.”

Environment professionals acting as ‘catalysts’

Together with IEMA’s professional qualifications and its skills map for environment professionals, these new courses for provide a cohesive package, which will enable all organisations to achieve their environmental goals, believes Nobbs.

He also argues that these “mainstreaming” courses present qualified environment professionals with a leadership opportunity. IEMA recognises that the Institute’s 15,000 plus members cannot achieve environmental goals alone, unsupported or in isolation. By working collaboratively with all suitably trained and motivated colleagues towards environmental goals, environment professionals should feel increasingly supported and able to lead environmental excellence, he argues.

“Environment professionals must harness their knowledge and commitment to become the catalysts for cross-organisational environment training and now, for the first time, they have an appropriate training package to look to.”

Nobbs explains that development of the new courses is part of IEMA’s ambition to upskill individuals, organisations, supply chains and even entire economies.

“We know the way leading organisations are approaching the environment agenda is changing. We can see that it’s about resilience, competitiveness, productivity and new sources of value. If the UK economy is going to deliver that opportunity more widely then we need to be bold and need nothing short of a comprehensive upskilling of all parts of the economy.

“This has to be based on thought leadership, the best standards, delivered at consistently high quality and at volume. In these suite of qualifications, along with the IEMA environmental skills map and our existing professional qualifications, we feel we have the solution.”

To find out more about the courses, including costs, availability and booking details, visit

BAE Systems

BAE Systems’ interest in the environment has grown massively in recent years. The company has had to respond to both internal challenges and external drivers, which has provided the opportunity to develop the capability of its people. Previously, resources and specialist knowledge were limited and we needed to grow our people to respond to the growing environmental arena. Initially this was being tackled without looking at the bigger picture, with training provided to fill short-term needs rather than strategic goals, and drawing on those inside the firm who had some degree of knowledge without considering what other partners had to offer. The opportunity offered by the “Leading with environmental sustainability” course has allowed us to take the message to the company’s top table in a clear concise manner, as this quote from a senior executive attending the course demonstrates: “We are in the early stages of designing the next generation of Royal Navy warships. The course provided me with a much deeper understanding and the ability to deliver this project in a more environmentally sustainable and socially responsible manner.” Engaging executives in the programme, clarifying key questions for them and providing a model they can support with its subsequent rollout across their businesses provides huge benefits and extended buy-in.

Jane Rogers, head of environment (engineering governance) at BAE Systems Maritime – Naval ships.

Royal Mail

Royal Mail has a huge workforce; if we are able to get even a small proportion to work in a greener way it positively impacts on the environment targets I am responsible for. Royal Mail wants to invest in its staff, and we find that giving employees the opportunity to gain formal qualifications gets them engaged. In the search for the right training for our “on the ground” and managerial staff we found there was a definite gap in the market. No course offered the right combination of targeted training that could be completed in one day, with an appropriate qualification as the end result. Both the “Working with environmental sustainability” and “Managing with environmental sustainability” courses offered exactly what we were looking for. I sent 12 members of staff on each of the pilot courses and could immediately see during the sessions how engaged they were and how enjoyable they found it. Since the training we’ve seen a reduction in energy use and an increase in recycling at the plants where the learners work. I’d categorically say the training has instilled some extra motivation in those who attended. We already plan to put a further 100 of our staff from plants across the country through the “Working with environmental sustainability” course by the end of 2013, so I can see this becoming ingrained in Royal Mail’s training provision.

James Kokiet, environment manager at Royal Mail.

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