The skills for today’s job market revolve around the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) to produce the workforce needed, but those same STEM skills will also be needed to propel the UK into an efficient, low carbon and resilient economy; tackling this area offers a ‘win’ for the short, medium and long term.
Both the quantity and quality of technical and academic education must be improved and the deficit tackled urgently. These skills are needed now and tackling them is a policy of ‘no regrets’.
Broader skill sets will also be important for the future economy – the UK needs a workforce with the ability to problem solve, to employ critical thinking and challenge current conventions. Many jobs in the future economy are unknowable today, which means our education and training must be grounded on a deep understanding of theory and basic principles. This should embed flexibility and help people to adapt to new job roles as others become obsolete due to technological change. These broader “sustainability skills” are as important as the more tangible STEM.
The Aldersgate Group will be holding its next public debate on how the UK can best tap into the employment opportunities presented by the low-carbon economy in December 2015.