The next government should prioritise sustainability and embed green skills across education and training schemes, according to environmental professionals.
The Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) argues that green skills are as vital as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and want to see STEM skills expanded to include sustainability.
The call from IEMA follows a poll of its members in which 88% wanted sustainability incorporated into developing STEM skills, to ensure UK businesses have the skills to successfully compete on a global scale.
Taking further action - backed by 96% - by embedding sustainability and environment skills throughout education and training schemes would help to bridge the skills gap in this area and boost productivity and competitiveness.
The IEMA lead on skills for a sustainable economy Josh Fothergill warned: “Failure to do this within the next Parliament will mean the UK will be behind the line - perhaps permanently - so this is a very real priority.”
The IEMA argued that UK businesses that embrace sustainable practices can save as much as £1m a year. It also pointed to research it carried out last year which found that only 13% of organisations were confident they had the right skills to compete in a sustainable economy.
The poll also found that 95% wanted sustainability issues to have stronger prominence in the National Curriculum and in workforce lifelong learning programmes. The same percentage also wanted the next Government to specify sustainability competence and capabilities within public procurement contracts to help the transition to a sustainable UK economy.
Fothergill added: “Our members have voiced a clear message to the next Government, saying that it has a responsibility to set clear expectations, guidance and frameworks for sustainability skills.”