Inviting young people to be part of the Green Summit has always offered a great opportunity to listen to how they feel about the climate crisis and provide inspiration and hope for the future.
This year’s Green Summit was no different. Manchester Environment Education Network or “MEEN” as it’s more commonly known, has been working on an exciting one-off project, funded by Electricity North West, to investigate options on how we could address the green sector skills gap.
Lydia Meryl, from MEEN, takes us through how the Network engaged with colleges and high schools over 3 months to raise awareness with teaching staff and young people of the many green sector opportunities on offer in the region.
Let’s hand over to Lydia to explain more…
We had become aware over the years that there seemed to be a disconnection between high school Design and Technology departments and post-16 Further Education construction departments providing green sector skills. Electricity North West agreed to fund a short-term, one-off project to investigate how high school design and technology departments are preparing young learners for the transition to the next stage of their training, as well as highlighting the many career opportunities on offer in the green building sector after qualifying.
During the summer holiday prior to the Green Summit, we met, rallied and supported 7 of the 9 Greater Manchester colleges to start to think about their links with their ‘feeder’ high schools. We couldn’t reach the schools during that time so we hope to return to the task of bringing them together in 2024
The first challenge we faced was finding the right people to connect with in the colleges. From July through to the beginning of October, we were able to meet with various trainers in Construction Departments in these colleges. We began to discuss the importance of engaging Eco Champion learners from high school Design and Technology courses. They want to know about green careers which are more technical and ‘hands-on’. We also found out that some of the trainers themselves felt they could learn from the students coming on to their courses with existing knowledge about carbon reduction and the causes of the Climate Crisis
Four of the seven college groups were finally able to attend the Green Summit on 2nd October. We welcomed and supported 40+ construction trainees and their trainers at the Lowry and displayed their posters and artwork showing their understanding of “What a Green Job Looks Like”. They joined over 1000 adults in the plenary and workshops. The young people set about participative action research, using questionnaires to interview the Exhibitors and find out what skills these future employers are looking for.
As usual, we had invited 15 Primary School Climate Champions to run a stall about the importance of Trees. They really enjoyed interviewing the NGO stall holders and finding out about volunteering as part of the struggle to have Climate Change recognised. As part of the project, we had also targeted 3 specific High Schools where they are re-configuring the ways they teach Resistant Materials and Design and Technology. We were pleased therefore to welcome teachers and 28 school students who also took part in the survey and joined in the Workshops and asked very useful questions. So, the total number of MEEN participants was about 78 well prepared students aged between 15 and 18, committed to low carbon construction. Their voice was new and important.
We’d like to thank Electricity NW who kindly sponsored the facilitation of recruiting and managing this cohort, helping to increase awareness of this growing sector of employment for young learners.
Paul Pritchard, Centre Director (of) Technology, from Hopwood Hall College took a group of learners to the Green Summit and fed-back how special they all felt when a new “Top” electric coach supplied by Swans Travel came to pick them up, arranged by Councillor Abdul Jabbar from Oldham Council; “It was Mint! “(all their words).
“The Green Summit was incredibly uplifting and had a great impact on our learners who found it both meaningful and thought-provoking. They gained so much from it. I attended mid-morning and saw two of our brickwork learners interviewing employers on a task set by MEEN. The learners gained so much from this experience, they felt empowered, gained confidence and learnt new things. On their return to college all the learners couldn’t wait to give us feedback and excitedly told us all about their experiences. This event will definitely serve to inspire them to consider and research more green initiatives and options.
“I have fed back in a college meeting on how wonderful this event was, and we are looking at taking more learners and staff next year as we feel this would be of great benefit.
“Thank you again for supporting Hopwood Hall College and enabling us to attend this great event.”