Apprenticeships Post COVID
Build Back Better
Building back better means doing things differently to how we did them before – and that means a shift in the skills our society needs its people to be equipped with. According to one expert prediction, two thirds of the young people currently in primary school will end up in jobs that don’t even exist today. As we move towards our national target of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050, it is likely that a plethora of new roles will spring into existence which are explicitly ‘green’, while existing job roles will become ‘greener’.
Enginuity analysis of American O*NET data shows that shift is already taking place, with duties such as environmental monitoring and reporting now part and parcel of many engineering roles. This ‘greening’ of engineering brings a huge opportunity to enthuse a new generation who before now may not have given a career in making and building things a second thought. Engineers will be the people who build the systems, infrastructure and technology which get us to Net Zero and half of 18-34 year olds want jobs in the green economy.
The opportunity is there – we just need to harness young people’s keenness to build a better world and equip them with the skills they’ll need to do it. Here, a new opportunity calls for an (in engineering) age-old solution. The task is to develop apprenticeships so that they are reflective of the green shift in the sector and of young people’s enthusiasm for green careers.
The good news is that the Institute for Apprenticeships – the body which sets the standards which underpin all apprenticeships in England – is already on the case, with a new green apprenticeships advisory panel being set up late last year. Government departments are pulling together too (as Enginuity has called for), with the Business and Education departments forming a green jobs taskforce which will build a long-term plan for green skills. The architecture is being built.
To make sure green skills and knowledge are embedded, this welcome government focus needs to drive action on the ground – and there are positive signs that this will happen. During Covid-19, Enginuity has been surveying training providers and colleges consistently to understand their experiences of the pandemic. We built green questions into the last of these surveys and we found that the sector is up for the challenge of embedding the green skills and knowledge apprentices will need. 71% of respondents to the survey agreed or strongly agreed that there should be mandatory green content in new apprenticeship standards, while 79% plan to expand their green training provision.
At the moment, the pandemic means many engineering and manufacturing employers are focused very much on the here and now. As we come out of the Covid-19 restrictions, and those employers once again have the confidence to look towards a greener future, let’s make sure they have an apprenticeship system which supports them on the journey to Net Zero. Let’s harness the enthusiasm of young people, training providers and government, and let’s build back better!