As the UK Treasury today published its landmark Productivity report, IEMA offered words of welcome for Government’s ambition to place skills at the centre of the plan. However, the institute also voiced concern on several other issues in Fixing the Foundations: Creating a More Prosperous Nation such as the apparent end of the zero carbon homes commitment.

IEMA’s Chief Policy Advisor Martin Baxter said today that implementation of this plan will “provide significant opportunities to build sustainability into the UK’s skills base”. However IEMA expressed disappointment that the report does not explicitly highlight the opportunities around sustainability skills. Previous IEMA research has found that only 13% of organisations are fully confident that they have the right provision of these skills in order to compete in a sustainable economy, which gives context on the scale of the opportunities to appropriately upskill the nation.

Martin Baxter said: “While the Treasury’s plan does not specifically highlight sustainability skills, the need for the UK to develop the higher level of skills required for its long-term success is brought into clear focus. The plan provides huge opportunities for mainstreaming sustainable thinking across the UK economy. Moves to deliver 3 million apprenticeships and Institutes of Technology registered with professional bodies have the potential to significantly enhance the reach of sustainability skills needed to deliver UK businesses the growth opportunities inherent in a sustainable economy.”

Despite this positive move, IEMA has concerns with a number of other proposals, which put the environment and sustained progress in low-carbon initiatives at risk, including:

  • The decision that government does not intend to proceed with the zero carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme or the proposed 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards. IEMA says this is a backwards step that will frustrate and disappoint green leaders in industry who have been working towards previous targets.

  • The ‘Reliable and low carbon’ energy commitments neglect to mention the importance of the UK’s growing wind industry