Westminster launch for IEMA campaign to bridge the sustainability skills gap

15th January 2015

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  • Skills ,
  • Qualifications ,
  • CPD ,
  • Training ,
  • Business & Industry


Linda Stephen

IEMA brought together 200 business leaders and politicians at the House of Commons in December to establish a course of action to equip the UK's workforce with environment and sustainability skills.

With support from Joan Walley MP, chair of the environmental audit committee, and sponsors Willmott Dixon, the event was held as part of IEMA's campaign, "Preparing for the perfect storm", to highlight and address the environment and sustainability skills gap.

"IEMA research has found that only 13% of organisations are fully confident that they have the skills to successfully compete in a sustainable economy, the system which provides the only viable future for business. This skills gap is limiting businesses' and organisations' ability to capitalise on the significant economic opportunities offered by more sustainable actions," said IEMA chief executive Tim Balcon.

At the event, IEMA launched its four-point action plan - taken from the recently published position statement, Skills for a sustainable economy - to ensure the right skills are available and are deployed across the economy. The four actions are:

  • placing sustainability at the heart of business strategy;
  • ensuring sustainability skills are at the centre of all organisations;
  • mainstreaming sustainability skills through training delivered by education and training providers; and
  • embedding sustainability across the economy through collaborative action, energised by a government commitment to a sustainability skills strategy.

Opening the event, Walley congratulated IEMA on the aims of the campaign and for encouraging cross-economy collaboration to upskill the UK's workforce. "This is about guiding the compass, navigating the green skills agenda," she said, highlighting that the skills issues facing the UK are complex and require distinct leadership.

Balcon added: "There is no one business out there that has all the answers. The only way to tackle this is to collaborate. We're in this together."

Rob Lambe, Willmott Dixon's managing director of rethinking and energy services, then gave an organisational response to the skills deficit. He explained the challenges the construction industry in particular is facing across its workforce and supply chain.

Delegates included representatives of the campaign's supporters, including BAE Systems, EY, the NUS, Saint Gobain, Rolls-Royce, Wiles Greenworld and WSP. IEMA is seeking to extend the list of supporters into 2015 to involve more industries and sectors in the action plan.

As a result of the event, several more organisations are signing up to become supporters. If you are interested in your organisation becoming one, e-mail skills@iema.net or visit iema.net/skills-campaign for further details.

The Skills for a sustainable economy position statement and the supporting Preparing for the perfect storm report can be downloaded at iema.net/skills-campaign.

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