Training focus: All together now

13th December 2013

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Jack Dangerfield

Sir John Armitt, chair of City & Guilds, and representatives from Ricoh, Rolls-Royce and Tata Steel discuss the importance of ensuring all workers have an understanding of sustainability

Interview: Sir John Armitt

City & Guilds runs courses with about 10,000 learning organisations across the world. It is this global reach that can help mainstream sustainability skills.

“Sustainability must become the natural way of doing business and the concern of every employee,” says Sir John Armitt, chair of City & Guilds. “Learning has no limits. We can provide learners with the skills they need to succeed in the world of work, and our courses with IEMA will ensure that, whatever their role, workers have the right knowledge to do their jobs in a greener way.”

Armitt describes the partnership between City & Guilds and IEMA as a significant step, combining the Institute’s expertise on sustainability and environment with City & Guilds’ knowledge in designing and assessing qualifications.

“The [courses] are based on experiences in real businesses, and that is why they have the potential to work and really make a difference,” he argues. “This partnership has the potential to be a game changer for business.

“The vision for these qualifications is that they become the ‘gold standard’ to help businesses rethink, reposition and drive a new approach to creating value through sustainability.”

His experience as chair of the London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) gives Armitt confidence that firms can prosper if they embrace sustainability as a natural part of their operations. “It’s not that difficult,” he says. “Embedding sustainability is mainly down to two things: good planning and good training.

“The ODA was tasked with delivering the greenest games ever, and that was a major challenge,” says Armitt. He explains that the ODA set itself challenging sustainability targets and developed a plan on how to achieve them from the outset. “It was not easy, but we succeeded,” he says.

Ricoh: imagine change

Managed-document services and IT solutions business Ricoh sponsored the launch of IEMA’s call for action on green skills. Chas Moloney, marketing director at Ricoh UK and Ireland, explained to delegates the company’s long-standing commitment to developing innovative and sustainable products and operations: “Our corporate philosophy, set out by Ricoh’s founder, Kiyoshi Ichimura, in 1936, clearly states that sustainability starts with product design and is not an afterthought. That echoes throughout our business today.

“Ricoh views sustainability as developing a business model that will deliver lasting value for all stakeholders into the future, and look beyond managing our impact on the environment.”

The company, which in 2013 celebrated nine continuous years in the list of top 100 most sustainable businesses worldwide, has a global workforce of around 109,000 and opened its first environment office in 1976. Since then, Ricoh has put in place a number of initiatives to support its sustainability goals, including a zero-waste-to-landfill policy.

Its “resource smart return” programme, for example, offers customers an easy-to-use collection programme for toners, cartridges and spare parts, and is a key element to achieving Ricoh’s resource recirculation objectives and supporting its global pursuit to a circular economy. Another example is Ricoh’s “sustainable opitimisation” programme, which is designed to help customers reduce their environmental impact by offering a zero-carbon footprint in printing.

Moloney says: “Our logo contains the words ‘imagine change’ and that’s all about what our business can do to ensure sustainability going forward.” He adds that training is a key part of making progress in this area: “Every employee needs to be aware of sustainability issues, not just environment practitioners. Everyone needs to know that by doing simple things they can make a big difference.”

Tata Steel

Tata Steel operates in 26 countries and is the second largest steel manufacturer in Europe. It employs around 18,000 people in the UK at several plants, including at Port Talbot, Rotherham and Scunthorpe. Tata Steel’s long-term mission is to be the preferred partner in its chosen market and to be responsible in everything that it does.

“Environmental responsibility is key to achieving this mission, and that requires a committed and competent workforce,” says Peter Quinn, head of environmental policy and strategy.

In 2010, the company established the Tata Academy, which consists of 15 departments, one of which focuses on environment and energy. “The faculties are responsible for managing succession planning and for developing functional capabilities.”

The energy and environment faculty has developed profiles for 30 generic roles into which all environment jobs fit. Skills gaps have been plugged by IEMA-approved courses. For example, the Associate course, delivered in-house by the training arm of EEF, has provided the grounding in environment management required by operational staff, while the IEMA foundation course has delivered a basic understanding of environmental issues to staff at various levels in the business.

Quinn says the “leading with environmental sustainability” course from IEMA and City & Guilds will provide a further opportunity for Tata to expand its environmental learning. “This course is really well aligned with the environmental skills set Tata has identified as appropriate for its senior leadership,” he says.


Engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has a turnover of £12 billion and employs 45,000 staff. All its operations are certified to ISO 14001, and its three-pronged environment strategy focuses on: supporting customers to reduce their environmental impacts; developing low-emission products; and reducing the firm’s own impacts.

Nigel Marsh, global head of environment, says that delivering the company’s environmental objectives requires a suitably skilled and knowledgeable workforce. “It’s vital we have access to the right sort of capabilities in our environment practitioners, and much of the rest of our workforce,” he says, adding that Rolls-Royce is increasingly looking to IEMA to provide this.

“IEMA enjoys a unique position in the environment arena, and it is continually providing things that interest us. The Institute is in a position to be a global provider of environmental skills.” IEMA is helping Rolls-Royce pilot a new training course on sustainability in one of the firm’s businesses, for example.

Marsh uses Rolls-Royce’s recycling initiative to illustrate the benefits of improving employees’ skills. Called “revert”, the programme aims to recover, recycle and reuse waste metals in manufacturing and turn them into new aerospace alloys. “To do more using less, we need to raise awareness among our employees,” says Marsh. “We believe we can make significant savings by educating our workforce in techniques like waste mapping. That will make us more competitive and more resilient.”

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