Climate heroes can help shape workers of the future

16 February 2022


Written by: Alison McRae, Senior Director, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

First published: The Herald, Wednesday 16th February 2022



As we learn more about Glasgow’s most recent accolade by the UK Government as an Innovation Accelerator, there is so much to be hopeful about. Ecosystems built around innovation are developing across the city, such as the Glasgow City Innovation District, and we are seeing city wide partnerships formed through the likes of Glasgow City of Science and Innovation, specifically promoting the city’s excellence across science and technology. We can confidently anticipate the ongoing blossoming of these sector clusters.

When we look over our shoulder to the recent COP26 gathering here in Glasgow, through our Circular Glasgow work with the city’s business community and stakeholders, we have always believed that innovation is the key to realising the many solutions we require to tackle climate change issues and the journey to net zero. I believe that Glasgow can be a global city demonstrator for generating many of these solutions, particularly from within our SME community.

But as we look to the future, one of the critical elements of enabling the transition to net zero is around the development of the next generation of our workforce. Not only will they be instrumental in helping businesses shape their new or adjusted business models, they have a huge role to play in shaping our economies of the future as we look to address climate issues.

As part of our My Climate Path COP26 educational legacy programme – professionals working in green and circular roles across the Glasgow City Region are coming forward to become a Climate Hero, helping to shape the school curriculum to bridge potential skills gaps and access a motivated and informed talent pool of young people. The Climate Heroes are asked to offer young people meaningful work experience in a role that has impact towards sustainability, allowing young people to become a step closer to entering the world of work and making a difference towards addressing the climate crisis.

Climate Hero Debbie Harper, associate director of Arup, is keen to see young people build skills on resilience and tenacity to help them make an impact, while Caroline Wilson, onshore consents team manager at SSE Renewables, sees her Climate Hero role as key to supporting the value of technical innovation in the future economy, by sparking awareness of the possible career pathways on the back of the recently announced ScotWind project. Sarah Dougan of Slanje Var is looking to showcase innovative drone technologies for seed planting to create working laboratories for biodiversity studies and demonstrate links to science, geography and tech in the school curriculum, as well as showing some of the emerging potential jobs which will be making a meaningful contribution to the climate agenda.

And, of course, we will see the trailblazing impact of National Manufacturing Institute Scotland being brought to life, as the transformation to more sustainable manufacturing processes to meet net zero ambitions continues by revolutionising skills, productivity and innovation.

Alongside these Thales, SEC, Applied Negative Emissions Centre and Scottish Power are all committed at the table to help drive this change.

Innovation will be key as businesses continue to pivot on their own net zero journey. Helping to shape the minds of our emerging young workforce will drive change across our future economies and act as a great example of symbiosis as the city continues to develop its ecosystems.

With businesses and leaders like these engaged at the heart of our education system, I think we can be confident that we will certainly see the emergence of the next generation of climate innovators coming through as the city continues to scale its ambitions in this space.

Interested in becoming a Climate Hero?

Visit the website here to find out more and apply.