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New Action Plan Highlights Importance of ‘Net-zero Skills’ to Future Economy

Ross Kelly



An ambitious action plan has been published outlining how Scotland’s workforce can develop the skills necessary for a future net-zero economy.

Coordinated by Skills Development Scotland, the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan has identified a series of “priority areas” that will help Scots capitalise on the job opportunities that may emerge from the net-zero transition.

The action plan recommends the establishment of a Green Jobs Workforce Academy, which aims to support existing employees and workers facing redundancy to up-skill.

SDS also suggested the launch of a Green Jobs Skills Hub that will examine and explore the types of green jobs that will be needed over the next 25 years.

Frank Mitchell, Chair of Skills Development Scotland, said the action plan marks an important step towards Scotland achieving its net-zero ambitions.

“Meaningful collaboration is required across many agencies to face up to this task, and I regard this plan as an important milestone on the journey towards net-zero,” he said.

The publication of the plan coincides with the updated Climate Change Plan released by the Scottish Government this week which commits the country to a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said the SDS action plan will play a crucial role in ensuring Scots are up-skilled or re-trained to adapt to a changing economic landscape in years to come.

He said: “The updated Climate Change Plan puts Scotland on a pathway to our world-leading climate change targets, as well as delivering a green recovery from Covid-19.

“Our first Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan will, crucially, help us ensure people have the right skills to support a just transition to a net zero economy.”

Hepburn added: “The Green Jobs Workforce Academy will play a key role in this, supporting those who are facing redundancy to upskill and reskill so they can capitalise on green job opportunities as they emerge.”

Some of the measures identified in the Scottish Government report include targeted investment to support new jobs in sectors critical to the net-zero transition.

Similarly, it also outlines greater supports for initiatives such as the Flexible Workforce Development Fund and the National Transition Training Fund.


Mitchell commented: “Over the next two decades, the core competencies of a wide range of jobs must become more directly relevant to the needs to a low-carbon economy.

“That means updating and refocusing people’s skills so they can contribute to rising productivity and help Scottish firms capture a share of growing international markets.”

Other priority areas identified in the plan include developing a better understanding of future skills needs, developing the future workforce for the transition to net-zero and ensuring fairness and inclusion in the skills system as part of a just transition.

Professor Dave Reay, Chair in Carbon Management & Education and Executive Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation at the University of Edinburgh, welcomed the action plan’s publication, noting that it “couldn’t be more timely”.

“Skills and education are the driving force behind Scotland’s transition to net zero and will underpin our green recovery from Covid too,” he said.

“A skills system that works for the whole of Scotland requires engagement with the whole of Scotland; from businesses and industry, through government and public bodies, to education providers and communities, all of us are key stakeholders in this climate skills plan and all of us must now ensure it is put into action.”

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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