Engineering and the Green Economy Webinar: Follow up report

With unique insights from industry our guests' explained how companies, jobs and workplaces are evolving

30 November 2020

On 19 November City & Guilds brought together Brenda Yearsley (UK Education Development Manager, Social Innovation Team, Siemens PLC), Nicola Swaney (Education Outreach Manager, Rolls-Royce plc), Katie Benson (Learning Innovation Manager, Volkswagen Group UK, Business Lead – Electric Vehicles) and our own Martin Hottass (Managing Director for Technical Training) to discuss the impact of technology on skills, the challenges and opportunities of the new Green Economy and this all means for the workforce in the UK.

With the OECD research suggesting that 13.7% of UK workers are in occupations that are at high risk of automation and PWC placing the estimate closer to 30%, changing technology is one of the most pressing issues facing workers and skills providers today.

Katie Benson explained how the focus at Volkswagen is increasingly on electric vehicles as part of an ongoing commitment towards reducing emissions and sustainability. This, in turn, is driving increasing demand for digital and software skills in the automotive industry, in addition to more traditional practical skills. This shift is driving demand for diverse talent and skills, as well as extensive reskilling and upskilling. In her words, “Non traditional automotive skills are going to become increasingly vital for our success.”

From Nicola Swaney, Rolls-Royce, we heard about how the Group is developing more sustainable power technologies across their three core business areas of Civil Aerospace, Defence and Power Systems. Rolls-Royce has officially pledged to be a net zero carbon business by 2050. “We are exploring digitalisation, hybridisation and electrification technologies,” she said, adding that they are currently open for recruiting with apprenticeships becoming available in December for school leavers with GCSEs or A-Level. These programmes include sponsorship for trainees to complete university level training through Rolls-Royce’s Degree Apprenticeship programmes.

Brenda Yearlsey discussed how at Siemens, the pandemic revealed the potential to embrace technology for greater internal and external collaboration, facilitating faster and better communication. The need for sustainability is also driving their thinking, using technology to create more comprehensive tracking of emissions and improving environmental efficiency. These ambitions will require highly skilled professionals to turn them into a reality, and Siemens has begun developing these skills as early as the school level, creating education content freely available for download on their website.

She also shared their latest thinking on artificial intelligence, and the importance of ensuring that AI incorporates our values, ensuring diversity and inclusion at all levels of their organisation.

Martin Hottass, City & Guilds Managing Director for Technical Training commented:

“It was fascinating to hear our guest’s insights about how fundamentally the drive towards sustainability has impacted some of the largest employers and industries in the world.

“The new Green economy is going to be one of the most important factors driving demand for skills as we move forward, and while this will create significant challenges it will also drive opportunities not only for young people entering the workforce but also for those established in their careers. We will need to ensure that the support is available for people to develop these skills, through the efforts of government, individuals and private industry.”

View the full recording of the webinar