The role of culture in building green skills, by Lucy Thompson, Enginuity's Chief Operating Officer

Date
9/11/2021
Our Insight
Insight

For us at Enginuity, the role of engineering in helping deliver many of the solutions needed to achieve net zero and halt the damaging effects of climate change, is clear.

 

Since the start of COP26, we’ve placed great emphasis on the skills required to enable industries to deliver greener outputs; we’ve discussed the role of re-skilling, and the intrinsic value that engineers as natural problem solvers deliver.

 

We also believe that creating the right culture for green skills to flourish is fundamental to enabling industries to transition to more sustainable operations, both in terms of output and career longevity. And this culture is also central to attracting a future workforce.

 

Creating the right “environment” for progress

As businesses recover from the unprecedented impacts of the pandemic, scrutiny over cost has never been higher but do we need to safeguard the balance between survival and progress? Are fears around costs stymieing the creation and delivery of technology-led solutions because the value - and the role - of prototyping and experimenting are considered too expensive?  

 

These are questions for businesses of all size although for SMEs, who are unlikely to have the dedicated the resources or financial infrastructure, it is potentially an even greater challenge.

 

And yet, the agility of SMEs often lends itself best to the ingenuity that delivers the solutions primes are so dependent on. To quote aerospace journalist Alan Peaford, when speaking about the Farnborough International Airshow, “it is the halls bursting with smaller exhibitors, showcasing their breakthrough products, that host the future of industry.”

 

It feels as though we are entering a pivotal time: recovery from COVID is underway although the effects are likely to be felt for some time; simultaneously, the pressure to tackle climate change has never been greater. The answers to both lie in innovation and breeding the risk-taking confidence – and culture - it requires.

 

Using the skills gap as a catalyst for changing perception

As industry seeks to address its own crisis – the skills gap – is enough being done to recognise the environmental and social awareness of the next generation?

 

Net zero and emerging technologies represent a key opportunity to throw off the shackles of old and outdated perceptions of engineering careers.  Challenging this perception must start at school with relevant, exciting, and innovative careers education –hence our work with Skills Miner.

 

It also reinforces the point that engineering needs to position itself as highly relevant if it is to attract a generation who do not remember a time before the internet. Today’s students and graduates are the most technology literate entrants the marketplace has experienced, capitalising on this – encouraging this interest and skills - will help attract and retain new talent; talent which has so many natural synergies with our industries.

 

The value of inclusivity

The simple fact is, creating inclusive cultures promotes diversity of thought and leads to stronger, higher performing teams that drive innovation.

 

This shift manifests as a psychological contract that encourages engineers- who are by nature problem solvers - to experiment in safe spaces to bring about real change with a focus on net zero.

 

As well as being environmentally conscious, new entrants to industry are more socially aware. Having grown up against the backdrop of a highly fragmented media backdrop – infinite television channels and information sources – their cultural references are informed in a wholly different way.

 

This means organisations are being held to account differently; the values expected are less about pensions, for example, and more focused on corporate social responsibility. Viewing this through the lens of sustainability is there an opportunity to do both, appeal to the modern workforce and make a positive contribution to climate change?

 

For example: the impacts of environmental destruction are being felt most acutely by low and middle income countries. Much of our efforts to stem the impacts in first world countries is retrospective – as we seek to make existing systems and technologies greener. By being generous with our learning and sharing new technology and innovation, we can enable developing nations to do so in a way that has less impact on the environment.

 

How is Enginuity playing its part?

As we progress together – industry, government, and training providers – what’s obvious is that green skills need to be supported by attitudes and behaviours.

 

Using our data and insight, we can enable organisations to cost, plan and track their workforce skills.

 

Through our projects such as Skills Miner, we are using gaming as a way to bring STEM subjects to life, promoting career pathways into our industries.  

 

And we are using our role and voice to influence the conversation so that companies large and small recognise that a focus on creating the right culture can lead to a wealth of other outcomes – and diversity is central to this.  

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