Jobs for a green recovery – report from Green Alliance

The Green Alliance has just published a policy insight report setting out the data and arguments for investment in a range of nature-based investments which would bring about environmental improvement, assist climate change mitigation and deliver social and economic benefits, notably in job creation for areas of the country where there is a distinct labour market challenge.

The summary report and accompanying detailed analysis include focused case studies on some specific potential actions, such as habitat restoration for bogs and seagrass, and tree planting and park creation. These specific examples within a broader approach for green jobs help to build that compelling case, especially given the downstream wider potential skills development, higher level job creation, and broad long-term societal benefits.

The detailed report shows the impacts diagrammatically.

Diagram of potential economic impacts of natural environment enhancement

There isn’t a specific read-across to the historic environment within the report, but the links can be seen – from allied research and operations associated with understanding and managing the cultural landscape as nature-based investment is made, to shared skills enhancement and longer-term job creation which benefits both the natural and historic environment.

Figure 10 in the detailed report provides a breakdown of jobs in Scotland in nature-based activities and nature-dependent sectors in 2019 with 195,300 total jobs, noting that 2% of these are specifically related to museums and cultural activities, with a further proportions being travel/recreation and hospitality-related, and natural craft skills which are intimately tied to the heritage of localities.

Figure 10 jobs breakdown
Hirst, A. & Lazarus, H (2020) Supporting a Green Recovery: an initial assessment of nature based jobs and skills. NatureScot Research Report No. 1257

Pandemic skill stretch for organisations and individuals

Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

Over the past year I have taken the opportunity to attend a range of different professional development activities, some of which were absolutely required as we moved rapidly from a physical delivery mode of education to a responsive blended mode where far greater use of collaboration tools and tech resources than ever before have been vital to maintain ‘service provision’.

I’ve also been listening closely to others reflections on the learning and development aspects of their roles which might not normally get spoken about much in open forums as well as thinking about the requirements of the wider heritage sector as I played a very small role behind the scenes as a Heritage Alliance trustee helping with the early stage scoping and design of the lottery-funded Rebuilding Heritage project. This sector support project, along with its sister project Heritage Digital, are designed to respond to the needs of the sector in addressing the organisational priorities for staff in terms of technology, business planning, resilience and operational capacity.

The pandemic’s effects on organisations and therefore the individuals which make up those organisations has been interesting to chart over the year in terms of ‘required response’ for skills support and development. In very broad terms, organisations have had to adapt to circumstances far more quickly than normal to an even faster changing business environment; and these have fallen into distinct overlapping phases and forms:

  • Go remote [adapting suddenly to closure of facilities and working from home]
  • Triage the terrain [assess health and safety of facilities and collections]
  • De-staff and re-staff [staff furloughed; skeleton staffing; staff taking on differing roles]
  • Digital dynamism [creating or enhancing a digital offering]
  • Access audience [maintaining engagement and attracting new audiences]
  • Re-engineering resilience [plan tactically and reassessing strategy to ensure survival]

As the lockdown begins to lift, with gradual re-opening of services, sites and facilities, two further phases and forms seem to be emergent:

  • Permanent prototyping [building in ability to rapidly change operations for changed external circumstances]
  • Blended bounceback [reassessing the service / product / experience offer in the light of audience behaviour, need and sentiment]

It is certain that further phases and forms will emerge which reflect how individuals within organisations respond to circumstances, and how organisations themselves evolve as the role of culture and heritage reasserts its place in wider society as it recovers from the pandemic.

Heritage skills

I spent the afternoon at an IHBC Education, Training and Skills committee today. We were kindly hosted by the Building Crafts College located right next door to Stratford Station in East London, and in the shadow of the Olympic Park. The College dates back over 100 years, and is governed by the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, one of the ancient City of London Livery Companies. After a vigorous discussion around the committee table on aspects of the professional institute’s skills agenda, including prioritising what the IHBC might need to focus its education efforts on, we had the opportunity to tour the College. For me, this was a magical experience as we passed through workshops with students producing both intricate and robust pieces of craftsmanship in both wood and stone. This included a project using bog oak, dating back 5000 years – with the end product to be a 40 feet long dining table (from a single trunk!) as a contribution to the last year’s Jubilee celebrations. My favourite aspect of the tour however was the cladding produced for the masonry tutor’s office – a chance to display the technical skill and creativity which is so under-appreciated when labelled as ‘vocational training’.

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