Training focus: All together now

13th December 2013


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Gary Clark

Paul Suff reports on how City & Guilds and IEMA plan to make all jobs greener

Making “all jobs greener” is the ambition behind a new suite of training courses jointly developed by IEMA and City & Guilds that aims to equip every worker, regardless of their role in an organisation, with the skills to help build a more sustainable global economy.

It’s a bold plan, but as Sir John Armitt, chair of City & Guilds, told delegates at the House of Commons launch of IEMA’s call to action on green skills: “If we are going to pass on a sustainable planet to our children and grandchildren … all jobs, mine, yours, a doctor’s, a chief executive’s and an MP’s, have to be done in a greener way.”

Host Joan Walley, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and chair of the parliamentary environmental audit committee, had a similar message: “Green skills are for everyone. The companies that will be successful in the next 20 years will be those that embrace the sustainability agenda, and green skills are at the heart of that … it’s for the chief finance officer looking at the investment portfolio [and] the mechanic that puts the final bolt on to a new car.”

Diana Montgomery, chair of IEMA’s board, told the 200 sustainability professionals attending the event that IEMA members had a responsibility to lead the adoption of green skills at every level in an organisation. “IEMA members need to be leaders in sustainability, helping management teams understand what it means for their organisation.” She also said members should encourage their organisation to make use of the courses to ensure that knowledge of sustainability is embedded throughout their enterprise, from the chief executive officer and the HR director to the sales staff and those on the shopfloor.

The event on 5 November, sponsored by City & Guilds, Ricoh and the environmentalist, also heard representatives from Rolls-Royce, Tata Steel and Ricoh describe how their firms are approaching the sustainability skills agenda (click here to read).

Taking action

IEMA’s call for action on green skills focuses on the need to better align mainstream education and training systems with environment and sustainability issues to meet the needs of industry. “I hear from businesses time and again that they have the ambition and the foresight to place environment and sustainability at their core but, because of a mismatch between supply and demand for environmental skills, they cannot access the right skills at the right scale,” said IEMA chief executive Tim Balcon.

The answer, he argued, is for organisations to upskill their workforces by investing in tailored vocational environment training, ensuring that environmental skills are embedded across the business in both specialist and non-specialist roles.

For many years IEMA has called for the mainstreaming of sustainability skills, equipping all employees with environmental knowledge and competencies to support the work of qualified environment professionals. The sustainability training courses developed by IEMA and City & Guilds and launched in June are the first step in the mission to arm every employee with environmental knowledge.

Armitt says the aim is for firms to consider environmental issues as a natural part of doing business, just as dealing with cost, safety and quality issues on a day-to-day basis has become the norm.

He told the environmentalist that the new training package was the result of IEMA and City & Guilds combining their respective specialisms to ensure courses of the highest quality. “IEMA understands the sustainability and environment agenda, and City & Guilds understand how to deliver vocational qualifications across a variety of sectors. By working together, we’ve created a suite of courses that ensures sustainability is an integral part of everyone’s job.”

The courses include two formal qualifications:

  • Working with environmental sustainabilityaimed at the entire workforce, this level 2 qualification (equivalent to a BTEC first diploma) provides employees in any role with the knowledge to do their job in a greener way and support their organisation’s environmental goals.
  • Managing with environmental sustainability aimed at managers and supervisors, this level 4 qualification (equivalent to a BTEC professional diploma) provides an operational and strategic understanding of the environment and its effects on a team or business function.

Both courses focus on the importance of resource efficiency; pollution prevention and control; environmental legislation; the impact of transport; and how employees can support sustainability.

The portfolio is completed by a strategy session for senior personnel:

  • Leading with environmental sustainability – aimed at senior executives, board members and investors, this session provides a strategic understanding of the risks and opportunities presented by a changing environment and its impact on business operations.

IEMA says the courses are distinctive from general environment awareness courses because each training session is targeted according to the employee’s level of seniority and can be further tailored to sector, industry and role.

All jobs greener in practice

Several businesses – including BAE Systems, Carillion, the Royal Mail and Wilkinson – piloted the courses in 2012 and, since the official launch in June, several other organisations, as diverse as the Isle of Man government and Walsall Housing Group, have signed up teams of staff to be trained in how their roles can have a positive impact on their organisation’s sustainability targets.

IEMA-approved training provider EEF delivered the pilot sessions in-house. Trainer Greg Roberts said EEF instantly recognised the value of adding the courses to its portfolio. “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 said.

On their involvement in the pilots, Jane Rogers, head of environment, engineering governance, at BAE Systems, said the “leading with environmental sustainability” session enabled her team to take the sustainability message to the company’s top table clearly and concisely, while James Kokiet, environment manager at the Royal Mail, confirmed that the “working with environmental sustainability” and the “managing with environmental sustainability” courses offered exactly what his organisation was 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,” he said

Going forward

Judging by the response of delegates at the House of Commons event, many more organisations will be following BAE Systems and the Royal Mail in making extensive use of the new courses. Asked what they thought of the “all jobs greener” agenda and how they might embed sustainability more widely in their organisations, delegates were overwhelmingly positive.

“The IEMA link with City & Guilds is brilliant,” said Adrian Murphy, commercial director at Integrated Synergies. “Raising the training agenda with a wider audience and offering a more structured approach has to be significant.”

David O’Neill, commercial director at Aberdeen Airport, also applauded IEMA’s partnership with City & Guilds. “It’s a welcome move, to join forces with an awarding body that’s recognised worldwide. The all jobs greener agenda is really important,” he said. “We have got a training side at the airport and want to upskill our own staff, and we see [the courses] as a great opportunity.”

Similarly, independent sustainability consultant Henrietta Anstey, said: “What’s really hit home for me is IEMA having City & Guilds on board. This is a really good door opener for us to get to lots of people who are not environmentalists to start greening the jobs that they do.”

Tim Proctor, health, safety and environment director at ISS, which employs 45,000 staff in the UK, could envisage his company using the IEMA/City & Guilds courses. “Contracts increasingly include sustainability and environment elements,” he said. “We can help clients manage waste to ensure none goes to landfill, for example. But to go further in other areas of the sustainability agenda we need people who are properly trained and who can identify what more we can offer. The IEMA/City & Guilds courses could absolutely help us equip our staff with the right skills.”

Chris Reynolds, energy management and sustainability officer at Guildford Borough Council, said: “I’m relatively new to my role, so I’m still developing strategies to raise awareness of sustainability issues. At the moment, colleagues still come to me if an issue arises, but if they understood the issues in the first place that wouldn’t always be necessary. The new IEMA/City & Guilds portfolio could be the answer.”

“For me, what’s important is leadership at all levels throughout the business, so ensuring people have the right skills is crucial,” explained Jane Lee, new business manager at British Gas. “We need to identify the job roles that need [sustainability] skills.”

Anthony Melia, director at Aspen Thorn safety management, identified the leadership sessions in particular as a step forward: “The leaders’ course is what has really been missing. There are courses for senior managers in health and safety, but, until now, nothing similar on the environment. That’s what IEMA and City & Guilds are now delivering. Leaders are the people who will really drive sustainability in their organisations.”

Andy Middleton, director at TYF, agreed. “Everyone, every employee in every business needs a sustainability A to Z in their pocket, and the more senior you are in an organisation, the more that information needs to be in your head,” he argued. “In the same way that London taxi drivers have to have ‘the knowledge’ to drive a black cab, leaders of businesses today need to have the equivalent of ‘the knowledge’ for all of the issues around sustainability, rather than just saying ‘I don’t need to know because I’m a chief executive’.”

“The courses are going to be most valuable for people where sustainability could be a significant part of their role, and it’s about developing them in that role,” commented Gary Meades, environment manager at British Airways. “We’re on a journey between sustainability being a bolt-on and seeing it as absolutely integrated into the whole business fabric, and that’s where this initiative has particular value.”

Andrew Edlin, group environment and sustainability director at 2 Sisters Food Group, is already planning how he can use the courses. “We have 22,000 people so it will take a long time to get sustainability embedded, but we’re going to pick out job roles and put some training in place early next year, starting with the key influencers.”

Ian Chapman, director of IC Health and Safety, said the all-jobs-greener courses provide the type of learning that many organisations are seeking. “I’ve spoken to various companies and I hear from chief executive’s with foresight,” he said. “I can think of one in particular who works in the automotive sector and he has a vision of upskilling his people. Now I can go back to him and say ‘what we were thinking is right’. I can go back to companies and say to them, ‘ this is the way forward and we now have a platform to do it’.”

Summing up the House of Commons event, Kokiet at Royal Mail highlighted the urgency of equipping all workers with sustainability knowledge: “The biggest thing I’ve taken away from this event is the need to do this now. We can’t wait for five or 10 years. We can’t be perfect now, but it’s about starting today.”

To read more of Sir John Armitt's views and for insights from Ricoh, Rolls-Royce and Tata Steel and Ricoh click here


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