Successfully supporting young talent into the tech community is one of the hallmarks of Bristol’s thriving sector. 

One of the challenges has been ensuring that these opportunities are accessible to diverse young talent.

The award-winning Green Skills for Jobs and Entrepreneurship programme led by UWE Bristol is on a mission to change this. A key part of the course is hosted at Future Space, focusing on innovation in the green sector. 

For the UK to meet its sustainability targets by 2030, the government estimates we will need to create and support 250,000 new green jobs that will need fresh thinking for innovation to happen. Much of this innovation is happening in the tech and science sectors.

Paving the way for new green skills

The first programme of its kind in the UK, it is designed to support young people from Black, Asian and racially minoritised backgrounds into this sector. 

Samira, who was part of the latest Green Skills cohort, has experienced the challenges of accessing new and different opportunities. “It is hard to go into a new space without having prior knowledge of it or having a role model – someone who looks like you – that you can look up to and see that this is a space that is accessible to you. 

“Without this, you stay in your comfort zone and miss opportunities. This is the first time I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone, and it has been amazing,” she says.

More than 100 young people have now completed the Green Skills course, including Samira who studies Accounting and Business Management at UWE Bristol. At least five of the learners have gone on to access incubation support through Launch Space with the aim of turning their green ideas into successful businesses.

“The innovative design of the Green Skills programme has values of equity, justice and community at its core”

Samira chose to take a gap year following an internship through UWE Bristol’s Strive internship Scheme, where she worked with local creative agency Bray Leino. Unaware of the opportunities available in the green sector, Samira was recommended Green Skills by a fellow intern. 

“I was intrigued to find out more because sustainability is not an area that I thought was accessible to me. I’ve never seen anyone that looks like me in that sector, so I never felt interested in it. 

“I found the course was much more inclusive than I expected, and there was a diverse group of people who were keen to get into the sector. I liked how the programme was run – there was a lot of support from the mentors. 

“I met a woman who looks like me, has experienced similar struggles in life and has been able to open her own business, which I was amazed by. She’s given me so much support and helped me with career advice, which has been comforting.”

Creating opportunities

Following the course UWE Bristol and Future Space connected Samira with an internship opportunity at Voltric, who went through the Launch Space incubator programme. Voltric is making electric vehicles more accessible by offering drivers access to everything they need to get on the road.

“I originally thought I would just be an accountant at the end of my course, but this internship showed me that it is much broader than that. Now I can see how I can use my accounting skills and apply them to a sector where I can help the economy and the environment, which I didn’t know was possible. I would definitely recommend this course to others and if any other opportunities like this come up I would jump at the chance to do them.”

“This work is imperative because the climate emergency has a disproportionate impact on global majority communities”

Xavier Baker, Mentor and Cohort Manager for the Green Skills Programme, tells us, “The innovative design of the Green Skills programme has values of equity, justice and community at its core. Striving for a just and inclusive transition to a green economy, I feel fortunate to be involved in empowering young people from minoritised backgrounds to secure employment in the sustainability sector and kickstart their entrepreneurial journeys. 

“This work is imperative because the climate emergency has a disproportionate impact on global majority communities and the Environmental, Sustainability, Climate and Conservation sector is currently the second least diverse in the UK.”

 Listen to UWE’s Changemaker podcast all about Green Skills, featuring one of the learners, Eshiva, who has accessed both a research internship and the Launch Space incubator.

Find out more about Green Skills