Businesses and universities unite on Net Zero Skills Charter to create 660,000 green jobs in North West

It will cover key aspects such as power generation; transport; homes and buildings; and industry

Convened through the Net Zero North West coalition, the North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) and academic institutions including Manchester Metropolitan University, a host of organisations across the region have pledged to create a “Net Zero Skills Charter”.

The Charter will explain the steps that can be taken to create a net-zero economy across the North West by 2040, the date in which Net Zero North West is aiming to decarbonise key industrial clusters in the area.

Businesses involved estimate that up to 660,000 green jobs can be created in the area, either by attracting new young talent or upskilling the existing workforce. Businesses and industry will then be able to access this pipeline of talent to help decarbonise.

The Charter will be created alongside a 2030 action plan to outline steps to decarbonisation. It will cover key aspects such as power generation; transport; homes and buildings; and industry. Additional job roles will cover research into climate adaption, such as flood defences, retrofitting buildings and engineering of structures to adapt to increasing temperatures.

Net Zero North West chair and Siemens chief executive Carl Ennis said: “The North West is already leading the UK’s net-zero future, slashing carbon emissions and carving a new path by creating a green industrial economy with a workforce of over 660,000. But, the availability of the right skills will be a significant risk to reaching our climate goals if we don’t act now.

“We’re spearheading a joined-up approach between industry, education and the region’s elected leaders to make sure we have the right people and skills available at the right time to benefit from a wave of green jobs on the horizon. Such a joined-up approach, through a Net Zero Skills Charter, will ensure we set the blueprint for how to train and retain low carbon talent in the region, and then export that expertise out to the rest of the UK, Europe and the world.”

Net Zero North West

Net Zero North West – the coalition of businesses backing the project – officially launched in October.

Participants include CF Fertilisers, Encirc, Essar Oil UK, INOVYN, Peel L&P Environmental, Siemens, Storengy and Tata Chemicals Europe. The North West Business Leadership Team (NWBLT) is also supporting, bringing representatives from the likes of BASF, Unilever and IBM on board.

The coalition recently received funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) that will be used to develop a “cluster plan” to prepare the North West and North East Wales to remove more than 40 million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year and creating thousands of new jobs.

Net Zero North West has undertaken internal research outlining how the cluster and related projects could mitigate and sequester a total of 10 million tonnes of CO2e annually from 2030. This is more than is emitted each year by all homes in the region. It would also support 33,000 jobs, the majority of which would be in the supply chain, the coalition believes.

Tata Chemicals Europe is notably in the process of building a carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) project at its industrial site in Northwich. CO2 captured by the array will be used to manufacture baking soda.

It is hoped that learnings from this project can be applied to the cluster, which could host nuclear generators renewable generation arrays and hydrogen production facilities as well as CCU. On hydrogen, the first phase of a hydrogen infrastructure network project called HyNet North West is due for completion in 2026. It will span Manchester, Liverpool and Chester once it is fully completed in 2035.

Smart grids are also primed to play a key role in the cluster and its network of infrastructure, Net Zero North West said in a statement. Work is notably underway in the industrial heartland of Ellesmere Port to install ‘smart’ energy grid technologies that will unlock flexibility.

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie