Young people across Wales are being encouraged to consider green careers to help reach the country’s net zero target by 2050.
According to a recent report by WorldSkills UK and the Learning and Work Institute, the majority of young people are strongly motivated to fight climate change and feel inspired to pursue a career that can help the UK reach net zero.
But despite this, there’s a lack of awareness of ‘green skills’ and ‘green jobs’ amongst young people and only 13% of companies are fully confident that they have the skills to successfully compete in a sustainable economy.
Together, the Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales project and WorldSkills UK are helping to change this by developing competition-led training opportunities for young people to boost their skills and confidence.
Ruben Duggan, a 21-year-old from Blackwood, recently competed in the Plumbing and Heating category at EuroSkills Gdansk 2023, the bi-annual European competition that WorldSkills hosts.
Having won a bronze medal, Ruben is now looking to build upon his success by specialising in renewable energy and paving his way in the net zero industry.
Ruben Duggan said: “Competing at EuroSkills was an unforgettable experience. I can’t begin to explain how massive of an achievement it is to be recognised as the number one plumber in the UK and number three in the world.
“The energy industry is constantly changing, so receiving training from top employers throughout my skills competition journey hugely benefited me. I’ve been exposed to new technologies and learnt to develop new ways of thinking which has ultimately helped to provide more affordable and sustainable solutions for our customers.
“Conventional education wasn’t my strongest area, and I think skills competitions are an amazing opportunity to show your potential in a practical way. The competitions really opened my eyes to the opportunities that are out there and helped me to start playing on an even playing field.”
In Wales, skills competitions are funded by the Welsh Government and run by Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales, a project made up of a dedicated network of colleges, work-based learning providers and employer-led organisations.
Competitors are encouraged to start at a regional level with Skills Competition Wales and progress through to the national, European, and international WorldSkills stages.
This year, 113 Welsh students and apprentices will be starting their WorldSkills UK journey at the WorldSkills UK National Finals in November to compete against like-minded students and apprentices in their industry.
More than 80 countries participate in WorldSkills, which helps develop skills through global training standards, benchmarking systems, and enhancing industry engagement.
Paul Evans, Director of Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales, said: “We couldn’t be prouder to have competitors like Ruben representing Wales and our skilled workforce on a European stage.
“As a project, one of our main aims this year is to continue supporting the Welsh Government's key objectives for delivering Wales’ net-zero plan. We are currently exploring and establishing opportunities available across the education and training sectors and preparing to meet current and future demand for green skills development by scoping out interest in new green skills competition categories in the years to come.
“Good luck to all this year’s national finalists from myself and the Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales team. Da iawn, pawb!”
Vaughan Gething, Economy Minister for Wales, said: “I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Ruben for his success at EuroSkills Gdansk 2023. It’s fantastic to see a young competitor from Wales showcasing his talent on a global stage and inspiring his peers to consider net-zero opportunities in their industry.
“Skills competitions play a vital part in filling skills gaps in our economy and ensuring that a transition to a cleaner and more sustainable future in Wales is possible. We are committed to working with Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales and WorldSkills UK to stimulate green skills demand in Wales; funding initiatives like this is one of many ways we’re providing our young people with opportunities to develop the net-zero skills they need to build successful careers in the industry.”
For more information on WorldSkills UK and how to start your journey as a competitor, tutor, or employer in Wales, visit https://inspiringskills.gov.wales/. More stories