Shaping the UK’s first Green Consortium – Step 1

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As we begin a new month, we take the next steps into our new vision. A few days ago, I had the honour of attending the inaugural meeting of the North East LEP Green Skills Bootcamp Provider consortium. A consortium that RE:geon Training are very proud to be a part of.

The North East LEP are the first to take a consortium approach to delivering Skills for Growth, with an even bigger emphasis on green skills. The aim? Well, that’s simple. To achieve an open forum where providers and stakeholders can share their learnings, discuss key challenges and celebrate their successes. Why? To be more reactive to employer demand, more proactive for shaping learner experience, and helping the UK to achieve their Net Zero targets by 2030.

As part of our commitment to raise awareness, and to drive the green agenda forward at industry level, I have chosen to share in the highlights from each monthly meeting. To document our truly innovative journey.

So, what does the green landscape currently look like?

The agenda for the meeting was to engage with each provider who now sits within the Consortium, as well as tackling our first hurdle – identifying the best approach for driving awareness through a robust marketing and communications strategy. Alongside RE:geon, the members of the Green Skills Consortium include: Gateshead College, AIS Survivex, Provincial Seals, Expedient Training Services, New College Durham, Lomax Training Services, Clear Climate and REVAMP. A dynamic bunch with expertise across green sectors and a wealth of impact to leverage.

Our meeting began with a status update around the current delivery of Skills Bootcamps. Over £550m has been committed by the Government so far in the UK delivery schedule for bootcamps, of which we are proudly piloting £2.4m in the North East of England. Delving deeper into our activity within the North East, we have 23 green skills bootcamps being rolled out as part of Wave 3, delivered by 9 different training providers. The focus on green skills is a first of its kind pilot so it’s an incredible initiative for our region to be taking the lead on. With each training provider offering something different, there’s a real buzz around ‘town’ for the diversity of green skills on offer. A real ‘shades of green’ approach is taking place with regards to development and collaboration between providers, which will provide so much opportunity and growth for the future. Especially when we consider that in our region alone, we need 80,000 retrofit workers by 2030.

Driving awareness

To drive the activity within the Consortium forward, there’s a huge education piece to construct. Not only do we need to shout about the great work already being done, but we need more great work to take place. More educators to join our ranks and more employers to jump onboard in a bid to satisfy their growing appetite and demand. So how are we going to do that?

The North East LEP will support the consortium with marketing and communications for the promotion of green skills, with the inclusion of logos and colour palettes to fonts and style guides. The team will get hands on with a variety of marketing touchpoints, for example – the design and management of paid and organic ads. Taking a digital-first strategy to our marketing is vital. Especially in the modern age we live in. We have to tell our story. And we have to tell it well.

This will take a lot of coordination, and there’s no guarantee we’ll get it right first time but it was incredibly reassuring to discover that within our own efforts at RE:geon, we are firmly paving the way in our approach to communication for ‘GREEN’ – both internally and externally.

Within the session, several training providers delivered short presentations on work to date. Of which I took the opportunity to hone in on the marketing strategy that we have already devised, with the hope that it can form as the blueprint for the Consortium’s.

I shared our current approach to communication via our organic social media platforms, along with our aspirations in the not-too-distant future for TikTok. What better place to reach our learners than the platform that gains their attention the most. And now the social channel to trump Google, TikTok is without doubt going to play a pivotal role in our strategy. 

Sharing our strategies

The first Consortium meeting fell at the perfect time for me to also share insights from our first green skills cohort as we piloted our Route 2 Retrofit bootcamp with employer partner RE:GEN Group. The pilot comprised a carefully curated group of 30x staff members from different departments and disciplines. Enabling us to get a 360 view on the training we intend to promote. By bringing RE:GEN into the fold, we can continue to take an employer-led approach to the delivery of our training, which so far is yielding fantastic results for learner progression rate. With 67% in Cohort 1, 80% in Cohort 2, we feel incredibly confident about hitting 100% with RE:GEN in our next cohort together. The partnership is also enabling us to forecast and overcome potential capacity issues in the future for trainers and educators. Like many training providers among us, to the bespoke nature of our offering, each employer demands something different and each programme has over 35 hours of development. A tall order when we have limited training resources. Our vision and aspirations for the future are to scope out the option for training RE:GEN staff to support in the wider delivery of our programmes. Especially now we are supporting their supply chain.

Earlier this month we had the pleasure of co-hosting the RE:GEN Super Sub Event of which I touched upon in the session. The Super Sub was an idea born between ourselves and RE:GEN, focussed on inviting regional employers/subcontractors, funders and representatives from education to talk about how we can align to help one another educate and grow the future workforce, as well as upskilling and equipping existing employees in the sector. The main objective for us was to understand the challenges felt across industry with regards to current skills gaps – particularly in “Retrofit” and “Green”, alongside the more traditional trades which remain firmly in demand. 

The turnout for the Super Sub was fantastic, with over 100 participants from 79 businesses in attendance. 70% of whom cited that their biggest challenge was recruitment and training. With specific reference to finding the right people and partnering with the right training provider. A key issue we need to address as part of the Consortium’s efforts.

The North East LEP closed the session with a roundup of what they intend to support with, and a clear outline of priorities and next steps before our next meeting in September. Key themes arouse around our current delivery plans, exploring our capacity as a collective to expand our skills offer to keep up with emerging employer demand and setting the wheels in motion to allocate at least 50% of the £2.4m funding by the end of September.

To say I walked out of the meeting feeling empowered was an understatement. With so much to go at, you could say it was a bit overwhelming but to me it was truly invigorating. There’s no denying that the targets we need to hit are astronomical. The road map to get there still being planned out. But the sense of pride that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for doing so much good, is a feeling that overrides anything else.

We have a lot of work to do but I want to take the opportunity to shine a light on just how far we’ve come. The fact we are delivering 23x green skills bootcamps already in our region is nothing short of incredible. We need to train a retrofit army for the green revolution, and with that will come many hurdles. But with the type of approach that we are taking through the consortium, bringing together so many likeminded providers, gives a real sense of hope that this WILL be achieved. I am very proud of the North East and what we have set out to do.

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