Making All Jobs Greener

Source: Rail Technology Magazine June/July 2014

Jonathan Nobbs, corporate network and development manager at the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), discusses the All Jobs Greener training initiative.

As the UK is dipping its toes into (what we are told is) comfortable economic growth, more and more organisations across the spectrum of business and industry are realising how maximising on environmental opportunities is key to growth and a sustainable future. Initiatives like The Rail Industry Sustainable Development Principles and the Office of Rail Regulation’s Sustainable Development plan getting industry-wide buy-in suggest that this sector is heading in the right direction – but more needs to be done to enable the industry’s workforce to make a difference to keep not only the rail industry but the UK’s economy on track.

The right approach to both training and environment & sustainability – a partnership between the two – is key to future business survival. Why? The increasing limitations that environment is placing on organisations worldwide – the changing climate, increased incidents of extreme weather events (remember the ‘orange army’ being called in to repair the main rail line through Dawlish, which was destroyed by the winter storms?), reduced availability and soaring costs of materials, to mention just a few challenges, means the skillset of the world’s workforce needs to adapt in order to survive.

And along with the news that companies who work smarter with their resources (the natural and processed materials they buy, use and re-use) can claim a share of potential global savings of a trillion dollars, there’s a distinct business case for arming as many staff as possible with environmental skills.

Reassuringly, at least some key players in the rail industry are demonstrating some truly encouraging behaviour to ensure their staff are equipped to make savings, work smarter and appreciate how their work can have a positive environmental impact. Leaders of the HS2 project are working with the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) to share knowledge and best practice amongst contractors and to explore ways of enhancing the knowledge and understanding of their environmental teams.

Going several steps further to embed a complete and far-reaching strategy to train every single one of its 33,000 staff in environmental sustainability, Network Rail is in the process of adopting a training programme that has deep roots in providing skills for a sustainable economy.

To provide some context, IEMA has been calling for all employees – at every level of responsibility, across all areas of business and industry – to be armed with environmental knowledge. As far back as 2009, Martin Baxter, IEMA’s executive director – policy & engagement, offered evidence to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, declaring: “Green jobs and skills will be vital in the transition to a low carbon and resource efficient economy. This agenda isn’t just about creating new green jobs, important though they are; it is about ensuring that all jobs are being undertaken in a much greener way.”

That reference to “all jobs” points to a training issue of global proportions, and such an aim – to environmentally up-skill the world’s workforce – is obviously a colossal undertaking. But thanks to a suite of courses for non-environmental staff specially developed by environment and training experts, it is entirely possible.

All Jobs Greener, a tiered collection of three courses that aims to make environmental knowledge and understanding a ‘mainstream’ element of every role in every business across the globe, was launched by IEMA and City & Guilds in late-2013. Together with IEMA’s specialist qualifications and the Environmental Skills Map for dedicated Environment & Sustainability professionals, these courses for the entire workforce of any and every company provide a cohesive package, which enables all organisations to achieve their environmental goals.

Driven by an ambition to upskill individuals, organisations, supply chains and even entire economies, these “mainstreaming” courses train and certificate the entire workforce in core environmental principles, getting all staff – not just the skilled and qualified Environment & Sustainability professionals – engaged in achieving the organisation’s environmental targets. With all staff from the track to the boardroom understanding how they can have a direct impact on reductions in energy consumption, waste and resource use, they are equipped to make the right decisions about how they work. By empowering its staff, this catalyses the organisation’s ability to meet its targets, reduce their impact and save money.

So while training and environmental budgets often take a hit, viewing them as an investment can result in serious payback. The companies that will really survive and thrive when the environment inevitably presents challenges are the ones who take a holistic and visionary approach to their most valuable asset; their staff. It’s our role to ensure that the ones who really get it are supported and equipped to make a difference.  

Targeted according to the employees’ role, there are two formal qualifications, and one strategy session for senior staff:

(IEMA) Working with Environmental Sustainability: aimed at the workforce

This one-day course provides employees in any role with the knowledge to do their job in a greener way to support organisational goals.

It is perfect for those working in any job role across all sectors, to ensure that environmental sustainability is embedded into all job roles of a company. It covers the main environmental risks and opportunities facing organisations, the importance of resource efficiency, the impacts of pollution, prevention, control and legislation, the impact of transport and knowing how employees support environmental sustainability.

(IEMA) Managing with Environmental Sustainability: aimed at managers

This training gives managers and supervisors an operational and strategic understanding of the environment and the way that it affects their team or function.

All training and the short answer test can be completed in two days. To complete the qualification a work-based report is also required.

(IEMA) Leading with Environmental Sustainability: aimed at leaders

This strategy sessions gives senior executives, board members and investors a strategic understanding of the risks and opportunities presented by a changing environment on their ability to do business.

It aims to provide senior executives across all sectors of business with a strategic and operational overview of environmental sustainability.

This is a succinct half-day session for senior business executives. Delegates leave the session with a new understanding of the short, mid and long-term opportunities and challenges that environmental sustainability presents in value creation for their organisation.

There are no formal assessments, however delegates are instead asked to make organisational commitments.

Case Study – Network Rail

IEMA and Network Rail have spent the past year developing a tailor-made training and development programme at scale, which breaks new ground for the industry.

Network Rail “run, maintain and develop Britain’s rail tracks, signalling, bridges, tunnels, level crossings, viaducts and 19 key stations”. Operating on such a scale of infrastructure, project, contractor management, value chain, estates and facilities management and human resources leaves the organisation more at risk from the changing climate and resource security threats than many. As a result, Network Rail has established a central sustainability objective that enables the organisation to deliver continued service and meet the expected 140% increase in demand for rail services over the coming 30 years.

Under the leadership of head of sustainable development for Infrastructure Projects and IEMA Member Tertius Beneke, and with the full support of the Network Rail head of sustainable business strategy Iain Groark, Network Rail has agreed a programme of activity to safeguard railway operations in the face of extreme weather and threatened resource security.

Recognising that the knowledge, understanding and buy-in of its 33,000 employees are absolutely critical to the success and achievement of the objective, Network Rail worked with IEMA to use the Environmental Skills Map to define the necessary competencies for its environmental staff and those of its contractors. In collaboration, IEMA and Network Rail extended the framework of environmental competencies to include all staff from its leadership teams, through managers and supervisors and the wider workforce.

In order to ensure its employees are equipped to meet those competencies, a high-quality training programme that can be tailored and delivered at scale was needed. IEMA recommended the newly-launched All Jobs Greener courses, which will arm all employees across all levels of responsibility, accountability and job function with relevant environmental knowledge and understanding to help achieve the Sustainability targets and objectives.

To ensure complete buy-in from its stable of contractors, Network Rail invited the commercial directors of each organisation to sign a Sustainability Charter, committing them to an appropriate programme of training.

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