[28 September 2021]

University of Hull’s vital role in plugging Yorkshire & Humber green skills gap

As the UK accelerates towards Net Zero, the eyes of the nation – and indeed the world – are increasingly focused on Yorkshire & the Humber.

With the Humber Estuary being the highest carbon-emitting industrial cluster outside of London, talk is often centred on the technologies and advancements needed to transition to a low-carbon economy.

Debate also often revolves around the role of Government in helping businesses take the steps needed to reduce their carbon footprint.

One thing above all, however, is needed to make the Net Zero vision a reality – people.

The contribution of the University of Hull in bridging the skills gap facing the Net Zero transition, and creating a talented workforce of the future, takes centre stage at a leading Yorkshire & Humber summit this week.

The Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission Green Jobs and Skills Summit, taking place on Tuesday 28 September, will focus on the needs of employers looking for people with the right skills to deliver a transition to a carbon neutral society.

The event, delivered live and virtually from the region’s brand-new green innovation hub, will be held at the Aura Innovation Centre, and is hosted by the University and Marketing Humber.

Professor Becky Huxley-Binns, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Hull, is among the list of speakers at the event, taking place on Tuesday 28 October.

She said: “At the University of Hull, we share both a passion and a commitment to provide our students with the skills and experience needed to thrive in their careers after study.

“A pipeline of talented and skilled graduates will be required if the UK and the region are to achieve our ambitious Net Zero target. With sustainability at the heart of our University strategy, we have already made significant progress towards supporting this transition.

“Our Energy & Environment Institute did not exist five years ago – today, we have some 130 academics and researchers leading efforts to tackle global environmental resilience and energy sustainability.

“We are also particularly proud of our Aura Centre for Doctoral Training, which now has around 60 PhD students researching with industry on solutions around offshore wind and the environment.

“Education has a critical role to play in tackling climate change, and through our range of degree programmes, apprenticeships and research clusters, Hull is at the forefront of the green skills agenda.”

The green skills and jobs summit this week is hosted by the Yorkshire & Humber Climate Commission.

The University of Hull has already committed two of its experts to support the Commission. Sarah Clark (Aura Operations Manager) sits as Commissioner on the YHCC, and Professor Dan Parsons (Director of the University’s Energy & Environment Institute) on the Science Panel.

In recent years, the University has also launched a range of degree courses around energy and the environment – including an MSc Renewable Energy programme, an MSc Flood Risk Management course and an MSc in Offshore Wind Energy & the Environment.

The education system as a whole, and universities in particular, must work together to ensure that the whole of the talent pipeline – from school children through to students and workers – addresses the changing nature of work and skills that are going to be needed to meet the green industrial revolution.

Speakers at the summit include:

  • Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire
  • Beckie Hart, Regional Director, CBI Yorkshire & Humber
  • Bill Adams, Regional Secretary, TUC Yorkshire & the Humber
  • Lauren Little, Stakeholder Advisor, Ørsted
  • Becky Huxley-Binns, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Hull
  • John Weir, Talent and Skills Lead, Aura
  • Jenny Young, Engineering, Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB).

Sarah Clark, Aura’s Operations Manager, will also speak on a panel at the summit.

She said: “The transition to Net Zero involves businesses of all sizes – from SMEs which are the backbone and the beating heart of our economy, to large companies which can employ thousands of people.

“The role of Aura is to bring these businesses together, connecting SMEs with industry and providing a tailored business support package which meets their needs.

“As a Commissioner for the YHCC, I want to showcase the power of the University of Hull and Aura to combine world-class research with high-quality skills and teaching – all feeding into the UK’s Net Zero business sector.”

The YHCC summit this week will focus on how Yorkshire and the Humber are bridging the skills gap faced by the Net Zero transition and maximising the job opportunities that will come as part of building back better and greener.

Through a series of business sector snapshots, breakout groups and a Q+A panel discussion, guest speakers will discuss the role of green skills in the ‘levelling up’ agenda and the importance of Government, industry, unions, education providers and civil society working together to support the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce in the North.