A Bid to put Cumbria at the forefront of driving sustainability in business has been boosted by the launch of a bespoke apprenticeship promoting social and environmental change.
The new corporate responsibility and sustainability apprenticeship, which is set to be delivered by Lakes Collegefrom October, was revealed to business leaders at a meeting of the Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster.
The apprenticeship, which has been developed with the support of BECBC, will train employees who can be the social conscience of any business and help to innovate and drive ambitions for social and environmental change.
Dianne Richardson, chief executive at BECBC, said the launch could help to make Cumbria the place to be for sustainability professionals.
She said: “Corporate responsibility and sustainability roles have really come to the forefront for businesses over the last few years.
“Here in Cumbria there’s been a strong focus on social value and social impact, particularly through nuclear supply chains, but we’re now seeing much more alignment with environmental bringing those people and planet focuses together as they are so interlinked.”
The roles and responsibilities will be varied and often involve working on multiple initiatives at the same time, from managing employee volunteering, fundraising and waste management to supply chain ethics, human rights and carbon reduction.
Philippa Hardy, who will be one of the lecturers at the college responsible for delivering the apprenticeship, said: “We are using the expertise that we have in delivering apprenticeships across other disciplines with our excellent teaching staff and are involving BECBC in some of the content.
“We are inviting guest speakers to come in and contribute to the delivery to provide that specialist experience and voice.”
Apprentices would provide support in developing their business’s corporate responsibility and sustainability strategy and take part in monthly workshops at the college’s Lillyhall campus.
“It’s an exciting time for people to get involved in this career as there’s a skills shortage and also an ability to influence where the career goes,” Dianne added.
“So, in a large company these roles could involve working with internal teams across the company and possibly across regions of the world with some companies as well as external supply chain.
“In smaller companies there could be a very hands-on approach of helping to achieve net zero targets and maximise the impact in the local community.
“The possibilities for future careers are very varied.”
Every apprentice would also be eligible to add another string to their bow – free individual membership with the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability.
Dianne said: “A mix of Government targets, such as net zero by 2050, are becoming embedded into Government tenders, which means doing well in this area helps businesses win Government contracts.
“Alongside that, many businesses are themselves concerned about the environment and their communities and want to make progress in this area to ensure the impact they have is positive.”
Sustainability is not exclusive to one industry, with most sectors from construction to digital and retail to logistics being concerned with driving improvements.
BECBC will help identify appropriate employers for the apprenticeship and, where they may require support to fit the role into their structure, can assist with making that process as smooth as possible.
Dianne said the development of the apprenticeship across all levels over time could have a ‘huge impact’ in Cumbria and beyond.
She added: “As businesses we’ve identified a short and long-term skills shortage in sustainability – incorporating social value and social impact – and upskilling the population here in Cumbria right now could mean long-term, secure and well-paid jobs for locals for decades to come.
“Imagine if Cumbria becomes the place you come to when you’re looking for sustainability professionals.
“We can make that a reality.”
For more information about the apprenticeship, visit www.lcwc.ac.uk