Sustainability strategy must link up with college-level action on green skills

Harrogate College has hailed new proposals to put education at the heart of the UK’s sustainability drive.

The government’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy includes plans to introduce a new Natural History GCSE, develop a Primary Science Model Curriculum and promote carbon literacy training.

The Department for Education (DfE) believes those proposals will play a crucial role in the wider push to reduce the country’s environmental footprint.

Harrogate College, which is already working with local employers to provide a range of green skills training – including for the electric vehicle and retrofitting industries – has welcomed the move.

But it is urging the DfE to ensure that sufficient support for vocational training at post-16 level is included in its plans.

Funding vital for sustainability sector vocational courses

Our Principal, Danny Wild, said: “It is great to see the Department for Education taking positive action on sustainability, and there is much to be applauded in this new policy.

“Encouraging more young people to seek jobs in the green sector and learn the necessary, emerging skills that are needed, is vital as we work to produce a workforce fit for the challenges ahead.

“As a further education provider committed to sustainability and supporting the local economy, our college is continually tailoring its offering to do just that.

“We have already run successful retrofit courses and, from September, our curriculum will expand to include more sustainable construction training and courses on electric vehicle charging units.

“However, we need proper support and funding from the government to be able to keep providing and expanding such training as the demand for green skills continues to grow.”

Leading the way on carbon literacy training

Part of the new strategy involves an acceleration of the government’s plans to roll out carbon literacy training at all levels of education.

Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, has also pledged greater support for teaching climate change awareness at all levels by 2023 – and new requirements will be introduced for further education teachers to build sustainability into their lessons.

Harrogate College is already ahead of the game in that regard, having completed its first carbon literacy training sessions for students and staff earlier this year.

Ensuring that carbon literacy training is provided is part of the college’s Sustainability Pledge, which outlines its ambitions to become a net zero carbon college by 2030.

The commitment was announced when the college hosted the launch of the first Harrogate District Climate Action Festival in October, 2021.

College stepping up to meet the electric vehicle challenge

More training to support the country’s transition to electric cars will be introduced at Harrogate College this September.

Harrogate, as recently widely reported in the media*, has been revealed to be one of the ‘worst prepared areas in the UK’ in terms of supporting the shift to electric vehicles.

Those findings were mainly based on the current scarcity of public charging points, with research showing that the district has just one for every 134 electric or hybrid cars.

Harrogate College, however, is working hard to address the issue by providing technical courses to support the electric vehicle (EV) sector – and has just bought some charging units to use in training this September.

Working with businesses to fill the green skills gap

Principal Danny Wild said: “As a college committed to sustainability, we are determined to support emerging green technologies, including those that will enable our transition to greener forms of transport.

“We have been developing our curriculum to provide electric vehicle infrastructure courses, while tailoring our motor vehicle courses to meet the changes in car ownership.

“In doing so we have also been working closely with local firms so we can provide the appropriately skilled, work-ready students they need.

“The electric vehicle sector is a rapidly growing one that represents a fantastic opportunity for both our students and local businesses, and our ever-evolving range of courses will keep adapting to serve that.”

Harrogate district’s electric vehicle future is bright

APS, which runs a national electric vehicle charger repair and maintenance service from its Harrogate HQ, has partnered with the college to set up a training and recruitment programme to meet the growing demand for EV service engineers.

Business Development Manager John Dyson said that was one of many reasons for optimism: “It is ironic that Harrogate has been criticised so strongly for a lack of action over installing EV chargers, when there actually is so much going on behind the scenes.

“Recent announcements by Transdev, that all Harrogate buses are to be electrified, and Harrogate Borough Council, which is to install 34 charge points in local car parks, gives a taste of just what is on its way!”

The college will introduce a new course, the Level 3 Award in the Installation and Commissioning of Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment, this September.

*For example, in this Harrogate Advertiser report.