Just transition to net zero in Wales: Ufi's response to the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government launched a call for evidence to help inform the development of Wales’ decarbonisation pathway to net zero. The evidence collected will also provide an initial step towards potentially developing a Just Transition Framework for Wales.

In the call for evidence, the Welsh Government highlights that a variety of skills are needed to support and drive a just transition for all of Wales.

At Ufi we believe there needs to be a more flexible, modular and tech-enabled skills system that can ensure everyone in Wales, and the UK as a whole, gets the skills they need to help us transition to a net zero future.

By supporting the development and deployment of technology, Wales can form a critical part of a systems-led approach to adult vocational education. This can help Wales to address the skills crisis it faces, like the rest of the UK, and help prepare the UK for a just transition to net zero.

Adopting a systems-based approach to skills and embracing digital technology for learning will help the UK as a whole gain the skills required to transition to a net zero future

Louise Rowland, Deputy CEO, Ufi VocTech Trust

Our response is supported by case studies from several Ufi funded projects operating across the UK. The case studies show how to make it easier for businesses to work with their learners, how to support learning for people from diverse backgrounds in different green tech-related areas, and how we can use technology to give people the skills they need for work.

The relevant projects include:

TimberTED, at Edinburgh Napier University Development Trust

Providing construction students and professionals with online flexible training modules to upskill and gain a recognised, accredited qualification with a bespoke digital assessment tool.

Blockchain, Badging, and ePortfolios for Skills at City Of Glasgow College

Platform using blockchain to provide reliable and verifiable digital certification of skills which learners can use to prove to future employers what specific assessments they have passed.

WastEd by Wamitab

A social learning application for the waste and resource management sector which supports workers in high-risk environments to overcome barriers to learning.

Executive Summary

At a time when Wales and the rest of the UK are facing an acute skills crisis, the transition to a net zero future presents an additional and significant skills challenge.  Historically, we have sort to addresses skills shortages by focusing on what is needed today.  Missing that the challenge of preparing for a more complex and changeable future requires us instead to address the inadequacies of the skills system itself.  It is only by creating a more flexible, modular and tech-enabled skills system that we will be able to ensure everyone in Wales, and the UK as a whole, can get the skills they need to help us transition to a net zero future.

By creating a better skills system, we can address the present challenges and create the capacity to adapt and deliver the skills we will need in the future. Increasing the development and deployment of technology in skills can form a critical part of a systems-led approach to resolving upskilling and reskilling challenges.

Across all sectors of the economy at least 24% of current vacancies are proving hard to fill because of skills shortages and only 8% of people who left school at 16 intend to learn in the next three years. A 34% decline in student interest in engineering and manufacturing technologies, key to a carbon zero economy, means there is a serious threat to our economic capacity.

The good news is that we have the tools to improve the skills market, making it more accessible, higher quality and more adaptable. To make this change, we are keen to see a comprehensive systems-based approach to skills in Wales that is based on a modular, flexible, and tech-enabled approach to learning, that can better integrate gamification, modular learning, and well-designed digital pedagogies to bring employers and other stakeholders with it; creating new sets of standards is unlikely to achieve this.

Work in Wales is heavily tied to localities and the proximity of key industries and workforce mobility has often been limited by income, skills, and house price barriers. Instant access to technology-led training could be vital to surmounting some of these challenges.

Digital technology is transforming how we acquire skills and how we prepare for the future of work; by integrating technology across Wales’s skills system, we could open access to all forms of adult learning. Technology, like gamification, digital or online learning, and personalised mobile learning, offers tried and tested methods of delivering training that is adaptable to the lives of Welsh learners and workers, online with flexibility over when to study, so that nobody is left behind.

We believe the Welsh Government must see such innovations as a core part of the wider debate on skills reform and would be delighted to discuss further how Wales can better integrate technology to support skills for net zero.

To discuss Ufi's consultation response please contact Josh Smith, Ufi Public Affairs Officer at josh.smith@ufi.co.uk.

To find out more about our systems-based approach to skills, explore our VocTech Challenge: Skills for an economy in transition in partnership with Learning and Work Institute (L&W). Together we are exploring how to use technology to help every adult in the UK get the skills they need to participate and benefit from employment.

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