Develop work, training and volunteering opportunities to support net zero targets, connect people with nature, rebuild depleted natural resources and increase biodiversity.

Given the green recovery and economic transformation that Scotland will undertake along the journey to net zero, it is critical that the workforce has the required skills to support and contribute to this transition.

Central to the Scottish Government’s approach to reaching net zero is our commitment to increasing the number of good, green jobs, and enabling people to better access these through training and reskilling.

To support this, we published the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan in December 2020, which, alongside the Fair Work agenda, supports employers and employees with retraining, upskilling and recruiting. We are investing £100 million to help businesses create new, green jobs via the Green Jobs Fund. The Fund will help businesses providing sustainable or low carbon products or services to develop and grow.

Following analysis of the Assembly’s recommendations, the Scottish Government will take the following actions:

  • Drawing on Assembly recommendations, we launched the Green Jobs Workforce Academy in August 2021.
  • We will consider the Assembly’s recommendations as we develop a Volunteering Action Plan with stakeholders.

Recommendation 57: National Nature Service

Government and industry should work together to develop a career ladder, or an incentive, for people not in education, training, or work to contribute to rewilding, land restoration and adaptation projects. This could be driven by a National Nature Service, supplemented by a Conservation Volunteers Scheme.

Children’s Parliament: Create more jobs for looking after all our nature. This would involve helping people without jobs learn skills to have green jobs.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation and commits to developing a career pathway and volunteering opportunities for economically inactive people to develop green, nature-based skills.


Research conducted by NatureScot highlights the increasing importance of the nature-based jobs sector to Scotland’s green recovery and net zero ambitions. We know that nature-based solutions can contribute around 30% to reducing Scotland’s emissions, but that currently we don’t have sufficient skills in place in order to fully realise this potential.

This recommendation expands on existing policy relating to developing volunteering opportunities in Scotland. This includes the Volunteering for All framework which was developed by the Scottish Government jointly with partners from the volunteer and community sector, local government and NHS.

The framework was published in April 2019 and, subsequently, working groups have been established to implement its outcomes, by developing a Volunteering Action Plan by June 2022. This was a Programme for Government commitment in 2019, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Scottish Government are working with over 100 stakeholders to co-produce a collaborative piece of work which will include some ‘quick wins’, as well as longer term actions. Working groups will consider the Climate Assembly’s report, including this recommendation, as part of the Action Plan’s development.

Aside from including this recommendation within the scope and mapping of the Volunteering Acton Plan, the Scottish Government is already delivering against this commitment. NatureScot launched a Nature-Based Jobs and Skills Action Plan for 2021/22, developed closely with Skills Development Scotland. The Plan focuses on inspiring young people and providing them with skills pathways to enter the nature-based sector. It includes details on NatureScot’s £1 million Programme for Youth Employment which is supporting Modern Apprentices, student and graduate placements.

The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) in Scotland works with local volunteers to develop community action projects that raise awareness of flood risk locally. The Scottish Government has provided TCV with a £20,000 grant to promote community engagement in local flood risk management in 2021/22.

NatureScot and the Scottish Government also provide over £300,000 of core funding to TCV to deliver volunteering programmes across Scotland. The latter has also provided TCV with a £20,000 grant to promote community engagement in local flood risk management in 2021/22. As part of its broader Make Space for Nature campaign, NatureScot also provides £80,000 of funding to Volunteering Matters to deliver its Action Earth volunteer fund that supports local communities to improve their local environment for people and nature.

These, and other projects such as the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative, the John Muir Award or Junior Rangers, provide a strong foundation to build a national volunteer programme in Scotland in line with this recommendation.

Through work led by NatureScot, the Scottish Government is supporting the development of a first phase of 100 ‘Wee Forests’ in Scotland, which are part of the global family of ‘Miyawaki Forests’ or ‘Tiny Forests’ project led by EarthWatch in Europe. NatureScot and other partners are also supporting YoungScot to establish a Young Person’s forest initiative. This project will support and train young people to secure funding and land, and then plant, maintain and monitor local forest(s) over time, helping to reconnect people with nature and develop green skills.

Recommendation 58: Green training and Apprenticeship Scheme

Scottish Government should support businesses and employers to transition and prioritise green skills by introducing a national training/retraining and apprenticeship scheme for new green jobs, accessible to all.

Children’s Parliament: Make sure all children and adults learn about climate change. This would involve hearing from experts in climate change and helping children and adults learn green skills that will help tackle the climate emergency like: How to grow food and compost; How to recycle properly; How to repair and mend things; How to have a climate friendly diet; How to plant trees and protect wildlife.

Children’s Parliament: Teach children and young people about what green jobs and qualifications they could get when they’re older. In schools, introduce children to different green jobs, and degrees at university which are designed to tackle climate change.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports the Assembly’s recommendation to support businesses and employers to transition and prioritise green skills, including through a national training and apprenticeship scheme.


Ensuring a just transition will be critical to ensuring no-one is left behind and that Scotland’s labour force is equipped with the skills needed to overcome the challenges, and seize the opportunities presented by the transition. This is fundamental to our economic strategy. It is vital that we engage with industry, employee representatives, and skills agencies to ensure that the right interventions are available to maintain Scotland’s talent pipeline. Equally, it is vital that employers themselves consider how they may meet their workforce’s upskilling and retraining needs.

The Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP), published in December 2020, sets out how we can align our skills system with business needs for a low carbon and circular economy. It outlines how we can work collaboratively to develop our workforce and set pathways to support sectors and regions attract, develop and retain the right people with the right skills.

As a priority action from the CESAP, and in response to the Just Transition Commission and Climate Assembly recommendations, we launched the Green Jobs Workforce Academy in August this year. The Academy is designed to provide our current and future workforce with the information, advice and skills needed to thrive in a low carbon and circular economy. Delivered by Skills Development Scotland, the Academy is also helping people take a greener approach to their careers, from accessing funded training and learning new skills, to finding a new green job. The new 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, which will support the delivery of our skills guarantee for those in carbon intensive sectors.

Additionally, in 2021/22, the National Transition Training Fund, which was initially introduced to support individuals and employers affected by the pandemic, has taken on a broader role to address the impact of EU Exit and to respond to demand for new skills to support the transition to net zero. This includes a suite of projects supporting green construction, advanced manufacturing and forestry.

Over the next five years we will invest £200 million specifically in adult upskilling and retraining opportunities.

The Scottish Government has also committed to establishing a Green Jobs and Skills Hub in 2021/22, to support employers through cascading intelligence into the skills system on the numbers and types of green jobs that will be needed over the next 25 years. The Hub is currently in development and is expected to launch before the end of 2021/22. The Government is committed to ensuring that our apprenticeship programme supports our transition to net zero. Apprenticeships are an integral part of our response and aim to deliver interventions that provide the skills the economy needs, both now and in the future, and help drive awareness and interest in the wide range of sectors available in Scotland. Scotland’s apprenticeship programme is unique in terms of supporting people into sustainable and rewarding careers while contributing to the skills needs of our businesses. As set out in the Programme for Government, we will maximise apprenticeship opportunities building back up to 30,000 starts and then assess demand to see how much further we can go. We will also consider with the Scottish Apprenticeship Advisory Board, Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish Funding Council, how apprenticeship development can support the recommendation of the Assembly, the climate emergency skills action plan, carbon management plans, and greens skills, ensuring apprentices are aware of how they can act in their day-to-day work to support greener/environmental practices.

Funded by Developing the Young Workforce, “My Climate Path” was launched by the Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform on Friday 17th September 2021. It was the Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) COP26 project focusing on raising awareness and getting young people engaged with inspirational individuals from key sectors such as Green, Digital and Circular Economy as they prepare to enter the labour market.

DYW have been working with businesses to inform and inspire our young people on the roles and skills required for the jobs of the future that will drive sustainable economic growth in a circular and net zero economy.

Young people have been learning about pathways to green jobs, and the COP26 legacy plans include young people having the opportunity for work experience placements and engagement with their local communities, to gain insights into their local circular economy and learn about green projects.

We are working to expand the COP26 legacy remit across the DYW Network by sharing the learnings nationally and promoting green opportunities across Scotland.

Recommendation 59: Flexible Working Conditions

Government should publish clear guidelines about their expectations for flexible working conditions and ensure that businesses are meeting these for staff when making procurement decisions and issuing contracts.


Scottish Government Response

The Scottish Government supports this recommendation and is integrating flexible working into our Fair Work First policy.


From October 2021, Fair Work First included new criteria to promote flexible working and oppose the use of fire and rehire practices. Guidance on how to support the implementation of Fair Work First criteria has been published. Through our Fair Work First policy we are rewarding and encouraging employers to adopt Fair Work, by extending Fair Work criteria to as many grants, funding streams and public contracts as we can.

The Scottish Government is funding Flexibility Works in 2021/22 with £94,850 to support and promote the development of flexible and family-friendly workplaces. This includes offering vital advice and support to business and organisations on the benefits of flexible working practices such as working from home, hybrid and remote working, as Scotland moves to recovery.

We are also supporting Timewise with £167,070 to support delivery of year two of their ‘A Fair, Flexible Work Programme for Scotland’. Their programme provides advice and training to employers, employment intermediaries and advisers on how to embed flexible working in employability approaches and provision.

Although the legal powers governing flexible working are currently reserved to the UK Parliament, the Scottish Government is providing support and guidance to employers to encourage them to adopt flexible, agile and inclusive workplaces that benefit all employees.

Flexible working is an important aspect of Fair Work and recognises that being able to balance work with other commitments enables workers to participate and contribute more fully and productively in the workplace, whilst protecting their well-being and improving job satisfaction.

Flexible working practices take many forms and will vary from employer to employer. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. They may include part-time work and job share, flexitime, compressed hours, staggered hours, and working remotely or a hybrid arrangement. Effective flexible working practices need to work for the individual, the team and the employer and should be agreed in collaboration with all.

Between April 2019 and March 2021, the Fair Work First criteria have been applied to over £2.4 billion worth of public sector funding, including almost £620 million of procurements. Our enterprise agencies provide significant financial and non-financial support to business, and encourage companies they work with to commit to Fair Work.