Skills system needs to urgently align with the scale of climate challenge, says Eastwood

There is an urgent need to align our skills system to the scale of the challenges facing our climate, Alliance MLA Sorcha Eastwood has said.

Climate Change Economy Sorcha Eastwood

The Lagan Valley MLA was speaking following the release of a progress report by the UK’s Climate Change Committee, which looked at how the reduction in UK emissions is going. She said it showed the scale of the challenge ahead.

“Major work needs to be done if we are to reach net zero emissions by 2050. However, we continue to only work around the edges,” said Ms Eastwood.

“A challenge like this needs to be matched by an equally ambitious programme of action. While that may be daunting, it is also an opportunity to ensure people here have access to high quality jobs and education.

“As outlined in this report, the UK Government needs to publish an evidence-based action plan for net zero skills. That needs to include outlining how we can address barriers to employment and training, especially for under-represented groups. It also needs to provide an action plan for how we re-skill and support those transitioning to new industries.

“A plan is one thing, action is another and it is clear from the report no progress has been made in the last year. We need action in sectors such as energy, land-use, business, waste, infrastructure and agriculture – all of which will be powered by people and the skills and education they have.

“A new Chair and members have been appointed to the NI Skills Council and I would hope and expect our net zero ambitions to shape their work. In Northern Ireland we need to identify what jobs, and how many, are required to enable us to hit net zero by 2050 and then work out the education pathways and delivery partners to make that happen.

“While I worry the UK Government aren’t displaying the urgency needed and despair at the disregard the DUP continue to show to the people of NI, I continue to have hope because the opportunity to develop our economy into a fairer and more prosperous one is clear to see.”