Decarbonisation is a key part of the UK economy’s growth strategy and goal to be net zero by 2050; it's more important than ever for organisations to align with this target. Responsible, sustainable growth should be at the core of what we do and implementing greener strategies will uncover a range of benefits, including waste reduction, lower energy consumption and operating costs, and improving access to a multitude of opportunities in the green economy. 

Upskilling your staff and engaging them with sustainable practice is an essential component of net zero journeys. But what are the skills organisations need to have in their toolbox?  
The Growth Company is running the Low Carbon Skills: Journey to Net Zero programme which gives individual staff the opportunity to develop the tools for sustainability and to build a roadmap to the net zero future. 

Develop your internal green team 

Coordinating a core team who are actively engaged with sustainable practices and broader climate targets is a cornerstone for net zero policy. By enrolling your staff on upskilling courses such as the J2NZ programme, you can train your team and heighten their awareness of proper sustainable practice.  
Recent research by KPMG revealed 20 per cent of UK workers would reject a job if environmental, social and governance factors were insufficient. Equipping your staff with the skills to think and act sustainably and having a core sustainability team will not only provide you with a workforce who have a thorough understanding of how business and climate interact, it could make your company more attractive to prospective employees.   

Did You Know: The Low Carbon Skills: J2NZ programme is level 3 certified by Ascentis and CPD recognised by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA),  

Improve your environmental policy  

In June 2021, 38 per cent of businesses reported they were taking at least one action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, many organisations still lack a clear and credible environmental policy through which they can finetune and uphold their climate commitments.  
There are certain tick-box activities that need to be fulfilled when curating an environmental policy, such as timeframes, evidence of claims, and the key people or teams involved. Upskilling your staff will introduce them to the necessary components of an environmental policy, the terms and pledges to avoid, and the tools needed to implement credible, achievable strategy. As more and more organisations are expected to publish their environmental policies and acknowledge their impact, ensure your policy is airtight.  

Understand the climate speak

“A key problem businesses approach us with is that they get lost in all the climate jargon,” explains Catriona Watson, Programme Manager for Net Zero Training at GC Growth Hub. “If you don’t understand the climate speak it can lead to accidental greenwashing and your business might face harsher scrutiny, or you could be called out on your climate pledges that aren’t supported by real proof. Being able to clearly articulate your sustainability commitments is crucial for a business’ net zero plan.” 
Understanding the difference between terms like “carbon neutral” and “zero carbon” will help your organisation to instigate and communicate succinct environmental policies that have real value and meaning. Knowing the terminology and understanding the dialogue is a valuable net zero skill. 

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Send the sustainability signal 

Greenhushing and greenwashing are staple terms in today’s business environment; all the more reason to send the right messages to your customers and stakeholders.  
Customers in today’s economy are interested in products and services that carry a sustainability story and adhere to environmental standards. Deloitte conducted a consumer survey to understand what people are doing to lead more sustainable lives, and 40 per cent of respondents said they now choose brands that have environmentally sustainable practices and values. This is important information to organisations who aren’t communicating their net zero strategies to customers and stakeholders.  
Understanding clear climate engagement strategies to send the right sustainability signal to customers and stakeholders, both prospective and current, will allow your organisation to engage in open climate dialogue, correctly communicate your sustainability credentials, and market the green properties of your product or service. 

Measure your carbon footprint  

Developing an environmental policy, engaging staff and communicating your actions and goals have a lesser impact if your organisation doesn’t have a clear marker to work from. Knowing how to properly calculate your company’s carbon footprint, taking into account scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, will give your organisation a clearer understanding of its current position and the net zero strategies that could be equipped to achieve your goals.  
Carbon footprint calculating will also spotlight areas of your business that are wasteful or inefficient, allowing you to improve energy efficiency, reduce waste, and green your supply chains. 

Begin your net zero journey today  

With 21 hours of active learning time in-person, online, or a blend of the two, the J2NZ takes place over the space one to four weeks depending on the cohort and equips your staff with all of the above skills., The J2NZ programme is fully-funded for individual learners who live or work in Greater Manchester and delivers a solid grounding in the key low carbon skills your team will need to develop and implement positive, achievable, meaningful net zero strategies.  
“The course was thorough, accessible, and practical,” says Hayley Hulme, managing director at Starts With You, “I was very impressed with the post-completion support and access to ongoing advice, guidance and encouragement. Since completing the course we have calculated our carbon footprint so we can put in place a reduction strategy, and upskilled some internal colleagues to put a process in place to ensure data is captured and monitored.” 

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