In the run up to the Greater Manchester Green Summit, we’re previewing what to expect on the day and hearing from our partners.

In this blog, Green Summit 2023 official partner Manchester Metropolitan University explores what employers can do to close the green skills gap.

Click here to register for a free place at the event to hear from them and others taking action for the environment in Greater Manchester.

The UK is currently facing a green skills shortage.

According to LinkedIn’s Global Green Skills Report 2023, only one in eight British workers have green skills compared to one in seven workers in France and one in six in Germany.

The global demand for green skills is also growing faster than the supply. Of the 48 countries in the report, green talent rose by a median of 12.3% between 2022 and 2023, while job postings requiring at least one green skill grew nearly twice as quickly (by a median of 22.4%).

With ambitious targets for the UK and Greater Manchester to be carbon neutral by 2050 and 2038 respectively, it’s vital that employers invest in their workforce’s green skills now.

What do employers tell Manchester Metropolitan University about the green skills gap?

Through our degree apprenticeship partnerships and work on employer advisory boards, Manchester Met regularly engages with over 540 employers.

The organisations we speak with include multinational companies like Amazon and IBM, local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) like AJ Bell and COUCH Health, and public sector organisations like Manchester City Council and Stockport Borough Council.  

This regular dialogue gives us exclusive insight into how businesses of all sizes are tackling the climate emergency. At a top level, employers tell us that they’re dedicated to the climate agenda but need more skills in their organisation to take action.

Many large businesses say they have high-level climate and sustainability strategies in place but need to empower more of their workforce to champion these approaches.

While a lot of SMEs tell us that they struggle to know where to start with the climate agenda.

What can employers do to close the green skills gap?

Flexible learning programmes like higher-level and degree apprenticeships can be ideal for upskilling staff already in the workplace.

These programmes blend academic learning with direct workplace application, letting employees study around their workplace demands.

Employers can get support for apprenticeship funding through the Apprenticeship Levy. This levy is paid by large employers with a pay bill of over £3 million.

Small employers, with a total annual pay bill of less than £3 million, pay just 5% of the cost of their apprenticeship training, with the government paying the rest.

So, while only the biggest businesses pay the levy, the funding it generates can be used by SMEs to fund their apprenticeship training and by the large businesses who’ve paid into it.

Large businesses that pay the Apprenticeship Levy can also choose to transfer up to 25% of their levy funds each year to other businesses. This means that smaller businesses could receive full funding for their apprenticeship training, regardless of whether they pay the Apprenticeship Levy or not.

How is Manchester Met helping to tackle the green skills crisis?

By 2026, every programme at Manchester Met will have Carbon Literacy and Education for Sustainable Development embedded, including our higher-level and degree apprenticeships.

The work to broaden the sustainability content of our apprenticeships has already begun, with the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship and the Laboratory Scientist (Chemical Science) Degree Apprenticeship, both including sustainability modules.

Our commitment to green skills doesn’t stop there. Manchester Met is excited to launch its new Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Practitioner Apprenticeship, with its first open cohort starting in early 2024.

This higher-level apprenticeship lets learners be a social conscience for their organisation. Apprentices will help to innovate and drive ambitions for social and environmental change and make these a reality across their organisation.  

What makes the Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Practitioner Apprenticeship unique?

Manchester Met is the first university in the North West to offer this programme.

Taught by university experts in the Faculty of Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Business and Law, the programme sees apprentices develop vital green skills and put them into action through real projects in the workplace and community.

Alongside academic experts, apprentices tackle sustainability challenges relevant to their employer and apply their learning directly to their organisation.

The apprenticeship is also one of six hand-picked by industry experts to mark His Majesty The King’s Coronation, gaining recognition for its contribution to creating a low-carbon economy.

This gold-standard, sustainable apprenticeship helps to develop and meet the demand for green skills across all sectors and industries—giving organisations of all sizes the skills they need to drive change.

Learn more about our future green workforce. Attend Manchester Met’s Green Summit panel session.

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