With awareness of environmental issues at an all-time high, at the recent virtual CDN College Climate Change Conference, Scotland’s colleges confirmed their commitment, pride and ambition in the part that they need to play in educating the next and future workforce. As a passionate advocate of the college sector, I listened intently to the speakers across the day, and was left feeling a strong sense of hope. Hope for the sector, the people and importantly, the planet.
The Scottish College’s Statement of Commitment on the Climate Emergency sets out the 10 key actions that colleges have pledged to deliver within their respective institutions. This statement recognises and embeds the crucial 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and Scotland’s Net Zero and Just Transition plans. Each of the 10 key action points holds countless opportunities. We have a great opportunity to equip young people with the sustainability skills they will need to navigate the uncertain world ahead of them.
Too often people automatically think of doomsday scenarios when asked about climate change. Recently, when speaking to a group of school leaners at a college, I asked the question “what does climate change mean to you?”
Every answer I heard in response was negative and filled with worry and dread. After a short session on the future of green jobs (presented by co-director Steven), the group felt much more upbeat and enthused to play their part in addressing the environmental situation we all face.
One young learner left us with a parting comment that will stay with me for a long time:
“Awareness weeks are meaningless, most people already know about the problem, have a week where people actually act instead of tweeting about it for likes.”
Young people want to be at the forefront of tackling the climate emergency. They will be most affected by it, so it’s natural that they want to make a major contribution to solving it. We must invest and educate the current, next and future workforce. It is essential that we spark their interest and outline the vast and diverse opportunities that the green economy will bring.
Let’s focus on explaining the opportunities the green recovery, climate reality, circular economy and Net Zero transition can offer to people as individuals.
If we can help a young person to make a decision that changes their perception of the environment, or of the circular economy, then we will have created an opportunity.