The need to build a more sustainable future is not in doubt. Tackling climate change is the single most critical task for businesses and governments across the globe, and communities worldwide are demanding action. At home, the UK Government has set out clear net zero targets. But the fact is that the UK cannot deliver on the Government’s green ambition without new skills and new thinking.
Building this sustainable future – with more sustainable infrastructure, transport links, communities and a greener economy – rests on a robust green skills pipeline. But we have huge deficit in green skills in the UK, while demand for those skills has never been greater and will continue to grow. This skills gap is something we must tackle urgently.
At Amey, we have our own sustainability team of more than 100 professionals looking at all aspects of the environmental impact across our projects. This covers not just carbon, but also waste, ecology, natural landscapes, noise levels and social impact. This team is key to what we do, both in-house and in the design and planning of infrastructure and client services. But although action like this is important, it is not enough on either a business or societal level.
INVESTING IN FUTURE TALENT
That is why our focus is on investment in future talent in this critical area. To this end, Amey’s Consulting business has developed a pioneering apprenticeship programme in partnership with industry experts, academics at the University of Coventry and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). This will develop and equip the next generation of employees with the skills to support the UK in reducing our carbon footprint and moving towards providing infrastructure solutions for life.
Fully funded, the five-year course gives school leavers the opportunity to work towards an Environmental Management degree while gaining experience on some of our flagship projects. These include major infrastructure projects from the Transpennine and Wales & Borders rail upgrades to the A66 road improvement programme for National Highways.
This first-class practical experience sits alongside academic modules developing key carbon and climate change skills. These cover environmental assessment and ecology, air quality, carbon modelling and landscape architecture, along with a detailed understanding of product manufacturing processes and their embedded carbon. This, combined with our advisory and analytical skills in managing and interpreting data, will give new insights into environmental impact and the changes we can make.
Amey’s apprenticeship scheme has been met with great enthusiasm by academia. Sharing our determination to deliver a programme that makes a real difference when it comes to tackling climate change, academics place great value on the fact that students get such valuable and high-quality first-hand experience to support their academic studies.
Importantly, apprenticeship programmes like this one also promote inclusion, attracting a diverse pool of talent to bring fresh perspectives and experience to this critical area. Not everyone sees a traditional degree as the best option. For some, it is not an option at all. But opening up opportunity to all is essential if we are to meet the scale of the challenge we face.
Apprenticeship programmes like Amey’s are critical to the future. But we must do more, and we cannot afford to think of green jobs as simply those directly in conservation or with a green label. If we are to meet the scale of the challenge of achieving net zero by 2050 then we need to change our thinking. All jobs must be green jobs and an environmental thread must run through every role across projects and across sectors.
Incorporating sustainability into business at every level and in every function is critical. It should feature in job descriptions, in development plans and performance reviews. We cannot afford for sustainability or green skills to remain an add on in how we manage our work whether for clients or in-house.
At Amey, sustainability is now embedded throughout the organisation. We encourage innovation in this critical area from each and every one of our employees and we have set out a clear roadmap to net zero as part of our commitment to creating clean, green environments for all.
Every solution that Amey Consulting designs will be net zero by 2030 and we will be a totally net zero organisation by 2040. This commitment does not rest on simply offsetting our emissions but instead it is about realising absolute reductions. Our ethos is to ensure we provide infrastructure solutions for life and that sustain life.
We cannot limit the scale of our ambition when it comes to achieving net zero. It must dominate our thinking and underpin all that we do in terms of design and delivery. Most importantly, we must make sure we develop talent in this critical area, putting the right skills in place to tackle the challenge. If we do not invest now, we will have left it too late.