Lancashire’s Colleges Are Delivering A Green Skills Revolution

22 March 2022

A green revolution is taking place across Lancashire.

To address the skills needed in the low-zero carbon economy of the future, colleges and businesses are working together on a major ground-breaking scheme – and every business can benefit.

Through the Department for Education’s £8.4m Strategic Development Fund Pilot, the county’s colleges are addressing current and emerging skills needs by working in partnership with local business communities.

Through Lancashire’s Colleges, hundreds of businesses are already improving their carbon footprint, reducing consumption and identifying business opportunities. This includes training to upskill employees on the latest low carbon technologies such as electric vehicles and low carbon heating systems and sharing practices on modern methods of manufacturing.

Businesses can access expert advice and support and use the latest technology in dedicated Skills Hubs. They can visit or contact their local college to discuss the support on offer and how they can benefit.

The support is available throughout Lancashire, whether a business is based in Lancaster or Leyland, Burnley or Blackpool. The Pilot offers opportunities for all employers to develop an understanding of the business opportunities, the need to become more environmentally aware and how to make the necessary changes to become more sustainable.

For example, the Low Carbon Hub is supporting all small and medium sized businesses to develop a low or net zero carbon plan, unlock new opportunities and markets and create a highly skilled workforce.

For manufacturers large and small, colleges are investing in virtual reality headsets and associated software which can provide immersive experiences and environments. The technology can be taken to businesses to better visualise designs before manufacture, particularly across more challenging manufacturing environments such as nuclear, aerospace or oil and gas.

Lancashire’s construction sector is one of the most affected from the move to low-zero, with the skills needed to meet the demand for green homes and commercial property. A new building skills zone will support Lancashire’s next generation of builders, offering opportunities for businesses to upskill employees on the latest technology. Similarly, energy efficient homes need clean heating systems and the purchase of air source heating pumps for training is helping create a new generation of local heating engineers.

The Automotive Skills Accelerator is working with employers to develop specialist training and qualifications to support the industry’s move into low carbon vehicles including electric/hybrid vehicle repair, motorsport, plant machinery, charging points and infrastructure. An Independent Garage Network for Lancashire mechanics has been established and a new high specification facility will open later this month with a demonstration event for businesses.

Lancashire’s green resources offer plenty of sustainable energy options, from solar energy to wind and tidal. The colleges are working with employers to conduct an analysis of the training needs and current skills gaps of businesses in the energy sector. At the same time, courses such as introductions to low carbon energy, principles of renewable energy and solar PV training are also being developed, and there will be a new Sustainable Energy Hub fitted with a Computer Aided Design (CAD) suite, robotics room and virtual reality studio.

For Lancashire’s farmers and growers, low-zero offers opportunities to improve efficiencies while reducing the impact on the planet. Ten carbon audits have already been completed with farms across Lancashire, while also helping farmers to use drone technology to check livestock, restoring local peatland and promoting net-zero farmers with buyers. Similarly, improvements on buildings efficiencies can also benefit farmers, from improving yields when drying potatoes through to improving animal welfare.

Support is also available for businesses to increase their digital skills. A Centre of Digital Excellence is re-shaping curriculums to support specific sectors with digital skills, such as manufacturing and aerospace including training in subjects such as software development, website design and CAD.

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