March 2014

Spring has sprung this month and with it a drawing together of lessons learned about green jobs and action.
We’re pleased to present this month the series of short films we commissioned about an array of small-scale green jobs programmes.
We look at proposals for the redrafting of the national apprenticeship scheme, as well as celebrating the positive developments – and pointed issues of access to land – in the organic food sector.

But back to basics – why a green economy?

This month saw the publication of a major study assessing our global system in comparison to models of civilisational collapse’ by the US National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (Sesync). Initially received with misleadingly doomed headlines like Nasa-backed study says humanity is pretty much screwed’, we liked Nafeez Ahmed’s analysis of the report.

Rather than proving that we’re necessarily doomed, Ahmed says, the report instead reminds us that the highest likelihood of a worst-case scenario is business-as-usual’. We need to avoid neoliberal-ostrichism’, he argues, by recognising the interconnectedness of ecological, environmental and socio-economic issues. Read the report for inspiring reminders of the potential of decentralised energy (such as in Germany, where 25% of the grid is powered by decentralized renewables, over 50% of which are owned by citizens); community-based food production and *economic enterprise…aligned with the deeper values that make us human – values like meeting our basic needs, education and discovery, arts and culture, sharing and giving: the values which psychologists say contribute to well-being and happiness, far more than mere money and things*.’

George Osborne unveiled the dirtiest budget yet’ this month, with a depressingly huge £7bn support package handed to energy intensive industries and a carbon price floor freeze widely predicted to undermine investment in clean energy and lead to increased reliance on coal power.

On a brighter note, after several large offshore wind projects being cancelled in the past months, engineering giant Siemens confirmed a major development for offshore generation, installation and manufacturing in Hull, expected to create 1000 jobs. While the Crimea crisis has highlighted the UK’s vulnerability on oil prices and David Cameron maintained that fracking is Britain’s answer to energy resilience in the face of a stand-off with Moscow, energy secretary Ed Davey recognised the need for renewables for national energy security in announcing the Siemens deal.

Changing how apprenticeships work

The government announced its intention to change the apprenticeships system recently, giving funding and administrative responsibility to employers rather than training organisations.

Critics say the proposals make taking on an apprentice more difficult for small- and medium-sized enterprises by increasing bureaucracy and by making them responsible for delivering all the associated training. The current picture of apprenticeship brokering, recruitment and training shows that about 80% of apprenticeships come through training providers, and 81% employ three or fewer apprentices.

We liked this blog about changing the apprenticeship system to make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises to make taking on an apprentice part of their long-term business plans.

Hot Off the Press

Amid the dirtiest budget ever’ and the publication, on the day of the budget, of a petition on the extent of malnutrition and starvation in the UK in 2014, the Soil Association’s report didn’t make big waves in the media.

Given the ambitions of horticulture-focused projects in our network, we were heartened by the recognition that demand for organics is looking to outstrip supply. Access to land for new growing sites is a core issue. We like Cultivate London’s approach to converting brownland sites to productive growing spaces for young commercial growing start-ups.

Those working in environment and sustainability management report high levels of job satisfaction, particularly those who refer to themselves as career changers’, who’ve moved into a green job from another sector. The annual poll of IEMA, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, mainly concerns workers at management level. We’ve found talking to our partners that green and decent jobs – with sustainability and stewardship at their core, with long-term prospects for stability and progression – can offer job satisfaction from entry level.

Case Study Films

What makes a good green jobs programme?

Local involvement, building local partnerships, tailored mentoring and information, policy support of paid placement pathways…
Watch project staff and young job seekers share what’s useful in supporting young people into Green Jobs.

You can follow up each project featured in its own short film:

OrganicLea is a worker’s cooperative growing food on a 12 acre site in Chingford with volunteers and trainees of all ages and backgrounds.
Here Clare Joy and young trainees speak about the FoodWorks programme at the site for 16-25 year olds not in employment, education or training getting into sustainable food work.

Otesha’s Branch Out project aims to help 16-25 year old job seekers access work and training opportunities in green sectors through a mix of accredited courses, mentoring and work experience. Watch and listen here for more.

Repowering London facilitates community-run solar energy projects, including Brixton Energy and the upcoming Hackney Energy.
Here CEO Agamemnon Otero talks about the involvement of young people in the process and the impact it’s had on their job and training trajectories.

The Arcola theatre is aiming to be the world’s first carbon neutral theatre. Here Feimatta Conteh talks about the ways Green Arcola benefits from the input of young people on sustainability projects, and how young job seekers like Yola can gain vital work experience at the same time.


Otesha’s Branch Out programme kicks off again next month with its combination of mentoring and employability support with accredited courses in horticulture and environmental literacy. Get in touch if you’re 16-25 and would like to join the 12 week programme.

Work with GroundWork as an achievement coach with young people in Hillingdon. The closing date is 13 April.

If you’ve got knowledge about environmental and water-related issues and have experience of volunteer management and working with communities, check out this home-based RiverCare project officer role with Keep Britain Tidy and Anglian Water

The position of farmyard supervisor at Vauxhall City Farm is coming up – move quickly as the deadline is April 4th.

Upcoming apprenticeships and traineeships all over London can be found on Central London Connexions’ website

This is the last monthly newsletter of the East London Green Jobs Alliance for the time-being.
Thanks for all your inspiration. We’d love to keep the information exchange going – maybe by a rotating newsletter, or by people posting on the Facebook page – so please do stay in touch! You can contact us through Otesha and we’ll always be glad to hear from you. Keep up the good work and keep exchanging good ideas and lessons learned.

All best wishes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.