UK (De Montfort University) DMU Receives International Recognition For Work To Enhance Sustainability Skills Across Leicestershire

A collaborative project led by De Montfort University, Leicester (DMU) working with local business owners to help transform Leicester into a climate friendly economy has scooped up a global award title.

The project ‘Sustainability Skills for Regional Employers’ has received recognition as an ‘Acknowledged Flagship Project’ at the annual Global Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Network Awards – a network coordinated by the United Nations University (UNU) to promote sustainability in education.

This accolade recognises the distinctive sustainable action DMU has taken carrying out this work locally and collectively with the University of Leicester (UoL), Change Agents UK and the Education and Training Foundation to research opportunities to address sustainability skills in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Aiming to enhance sustainability skills across the region, the project responded to the need to develop knowledge and skills among local employers to address sustainable development and move towards ‘net zero’ operations.

Through discussions with staff, students, employers and local stakeholders, the project found a strong appetite among students to address sustainability in their careers and that more work was needed to clarify with employers how to develop sustainability knowledge and skills within the organisations.

DMU’s lead on the Environmental Sustainability theme of the Universities Partnership, Dr Andrew Reeves, said: “This work is an important step towards a strategic approach in the Leicester area to developing future-facing skills across all local employers to address the challenges of net zero and sustainable operations.

“Our next step is to explore new collaborative arrangements between universities, colleges and employers to enable our community to lead the way in having a workforce ready to transition to a climate-friendly local economy.”

The research carried out combined a range of activities to identify views of stakeholders and to pilot some interventions to move forward with collaborative approaches to address sustainability skills, which highlighted a gap in employer understanding of what specialist and organisation wide sustainability skills they need.

Key messages from the project identified a range of short- and long-term opportunities to enhance collaboration between employers and higher education, through interventions such as work-based placements, top-up courses for existing staff, provision of training leading to specialist green jobs and more.

Positively, the project identified a desire among local leaders to make meaningful change and a shared recognition of the potentially transformative outcomes that could be achieved through a collaborative approach to addressing sustainability skills across the region.

The project has built upon long-standing collaborative work between RCE members DMU, UoL and local authorities in the Leicester area to address climate and energy challenges through partnership projects and with support of the universities Civic University Agreement.

Organisations in Leicester and across the East Midlands are encouraged to get involved in the East Midlands RCE to work together on sustainability and climate change. Get involved here.