Why new green skillsets can energise careers and the Scottish economy

With a target of 2045 for a net zero Scotland, a new Green Jobs Workforce Academy aims to revolutionise skillsets so everyone can play their part, writes Frank Mitchell, Chair of Skills Development Scotland and Chief Executive of SP Energy Networks

None of us need to look far to see the effects the Climate Emergency is having on the world around us. But how many of us have stopped to consider the effect it has on the jobs we do, now and in the future?

The Scottish Government’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, with a 75 per cent reduction by 2030, requires transformational change across the economy and society, but as well as being challenging, it also offers significant opportunities.

Now support is available to help people grasp those opportunities through the launch of the Green Jobs Workforce Academy – a new initiative delivered by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) on behalf of the Scottish Government to help people take a greener approach to their careers, from accessing training and learning new skills to finding a new job.

If Scotland is to meet its net zero ambitions, it will need more skilled people across a range of jobs to reduce its carbon footprint and create new, environmentally friendly solutions.

There are already opportunities across a number of Scotland’s key economic sectors offering great career prospects for people with the right skills. This covers growing industries such as energy transition and low-carbon transportation, plus other sectors which are just as fundamental to our economy such as construction, engineering and agriculture.

There are many people who have some of the skills these sectors and others need, including not only the technical skills associated with such jobs, but the underlying meta-skills which employers prize so greatly, such as critical thinking and analysis, problem solving, resilience, flexibility, leadership and communication.

With all industries changing for the better, they are welcoming of people who help us use natural resources differently and create environmentally friendly solutions to our problems.


Frank Mitchell, Chair of Skills Development Scotland and Chief Executive of SP Energy Networks


My own work as chief executive of SP Energy Networks is a case in point. With more and more of Scotland’s energy needs being met by renewable energy sources, we need to change not only the infrastructure that delivers it, but the skills base of our workforce as well. 

Every community in Scotland has a part to play in helping Scotland achieve its net zero target and it’s important they are all represented in an inclusive approach to green jobs. 

We will only reach our ambitions if everyone is actively included as a participant in this economic and environmental agenda. This is why the launch of the Green Jobs Workforce Academy is such an important step.

It will make it easier for people from a broad range of backgrounds to consider how their skills and experience can be built upon to launch a green career.

For some people, the motivation of working in a green job and contributing towards combating the Climate Emergency may be enough on its own.

Other people may reach a crossroads in their working lives – perhaps as a result of redundancy or having taken a career break – and will be looking at how to improve their prospects.

There will be others needing to boost their skills to move into a higher-paid job. Regardless of the motivation, the Green Jobs Workforce Academy offers the information and guidance required to make the right decisions.

Anyone can learn about green jobs and how industries are becoming greener. They can also explore training courses and jobs that could help them enhance their green skills and progress towards a greener career.

This is underpinned by SDS’s careers service, with expert advisers able to offer one-to-one career information, advice and guidance.

The launch of the Green Jobs Workforce Academy is one of the key commitments of the first Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan, published by SDS last December.

The Plan identified a series of priority areas focused on employers, education and individuals that will help Scotland capitalise on job opportunities emerging from the net zero transition.

Other measures in the Plan include establishing a Green Jobs Skills Hub that will cascade intelligence into the skills system on the numbers and types of green jobs that will be needed over the next 25 years, and maximising the uptake of apprenticeships in green jobs whilst also developing new work-based learning pathways.

As we approach the milestone of COP26, it’s no surprise that such activity is in the spotlight, but these measures are about the long-term as much as they are the short-term.

We need to get it right now if we are to meet our net zero ambitions and I’d encourage everyone to learn more about how they could play their part.

Visit greenjobs.scot to find out more


Scotland’s net zero journey will transform every area of our lives

SCOTLAND was one of the first countries in the world to declare a climate emergency but we know that words are not enough. 

That is why, to meet this challenge, we are currently taking bold action to end our contribution to climate change and become a net-zero nation by 2045 at the very latest. 


This journey will transform every aspect of our lives: how we live, work and travel. 

It presents huge potential for Scotland to grow our economy and improve our health and wellbeing alongside protecting and enhancing Scotland’s iconic natural environment. 

We know the pace of change will differ between sectors and that is why we have identified five priority sectors that are crucial to achieving our ambitions, including energy transition, transport, manufacturing, construction, agriculture and land use. 

We are determined to have a just transition to net zero that is built on fairness and a commitment to invest in the skilled workforce we need for the future, whilst ensuring no-one is left behind. 

We are committed to creating new green jobs and offering people the opportunity to gain new skills and training. 


Richard Lochhead, Minister for Just Transition, Employment 
and Fair Work


The principles of Fair Work underpin our transition to a net-zero economy. 

That is why we are investing in our workforce by supporting people to upskill and retrain, and help ensure our labour market can meet the challenges and opportunities it faces in years to come. 

Our skills system must be flexible, agile and responsive and continue to deliver strong results.

As well as reflecting the needs of individuals, the skills system must understand changing employer requirements and respond to them effectively by having the right interventions in place.

The Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan sets out how we can align our skills system with business needs to reach net-zero. 

It outlines how we can work collaboratively to develop our workforce and set pathways to support priority sectors attract, develop and retain the right people with the right skills. 

This week the Scottish Government launched a new Green Jobs Workforce Academy which will provide our current and future workforce with the information, advice and skills needed to thrive in a net-zero economy. 

Delivered by Skills Development Scotland, our national skills body, this will help people take a greener approach to their careers, from accessing training and learning new skills, to finding a new green job. 

The new greenjobs.scot site provides information on the types of jobs emerging in sectors such as renewable energy, construction and transport.  

Crucially it guides individuals of all ages through a process of identifying the skills they have and the skills they will need to develop.

Skills Development Scotland are also developing an online resource for employers to share information, demonstrate leadership and support the development of good, green jobs. 

I look forward to working with people across the country to ensure we deliver our just transition ambitions and create a highly skilled workforce that is fit for the future. 




The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992