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The green skills emergency and the greenworkx mission

October 3, 2022
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Energy supply insecurity. Cost-of-living crisis. Accelerating climate breakdown.

This year’s three biggest challenges have one factor in common: the green skills emergency.

That’s why we’re launching greenworkx: an edtech startup on a mission to get 10 million people into green jobs in 10 years.

In this post, we’re going to tell you about the green skills emergency that we’re tackling, and the team that we’ve built to take it on.

This year, the energy security, cost-of-living and climate crises have been made more real than ever

The summer was dangerously hot. It was the UK’s first ever red heat warning, with wildfires up by 500% in parts of the country.

But winter isn’t going to be any easier. Households are facing historically high energy bills, saved in the short term by an unprecedented £120bn government intervention. But long term energy security and efficiency is the only way out.

Global disruption is having an impact. The unreliability of Russian gas supplies shows that we need to be able to generate more of our own power, and not be dependent on external sources.

More green infrastructure will unlock real, everyday benefits here

With unstable global energy supplies, spiralling household bills and rapid global heating, it’s clearer than ever that delivering green infrastructure is critical.

  • We need to improve energy security by generating more energy ourselves, through solar and wind power.
  • We need to cut household bills by making energy efficiency savings, by installing heat pumps and home insulation.
  • We need to protect our climate by reducing our pollution, with cleaner transportation through electric vehicles (EVs).

But the green skills emergency is jeopardising this infrastructure

Nobody should underestimate the scale of work involved in this.

To give three examples: in the UK, we need to install:

  • 700 EV chargepoints
  • 1,600 heat pumps
  • 12,300 kilowatts of solar panels (~3x household power equivalents)

every single day for most of this decade - not to mention work in power plant construction, alternative fuels and smart energy controls.

The problem is: we don’t have enough skilled workers to meet this need.

Picking one example: to deliver the heat pumps, it’s estimated that we need to train 4,000 - 6,000 heat pump installers, every single year between now and 2030.

For context: that 4,000 is more than the total number of heat pump installers right now. So, we need to more than double the current number, and keep training at that pace for several years.

Add this up across all industries and countries - because climate breakdown is a global problem and every industry needs to go green - and the numbers become even more staggering.

Globally, 30 million more green-skilled workers are needed by 2030 to deliver net zero.

So we’re taking on the challenge of our lifetimes

For each of our three co-founders, this has been a wake-up call.

We’ve worked together and known each other for a total of 7 years, with varied experiences across tech, education and government:

  • Mat (CEO), most recently CDO at social enterprise Catch22, and previously a Downing Street Special Adviser to PM Theresa May
  • Sunil (COO) ran his own upskilling venture supporting frontline workers in the homelessness sector and helped a cohort of founders raise £20m+ to build social ventures
  • Richard (CTO) is ex-Teach First and a former software engineering coach at Multiverse, the UK’s first edtech unicorn

But it’s clear to all of us that the green skills emergency is the most urgent and important issue that we could spend the next decade working on.

This is why we’ve come together, to use our experience of building tech startups, crafting government policy and solving skill gaps.

Together, we’ve started greenworkx - an EdTech startup on a mission to get 10 million people into green jobs in 10 years.

Joined by top industry advisors in a coalition for change

We know our mission is desperately needed to address the urgency and scale of the green skills emergency.

We also know it’s incredibly ambitious,  and that we can’t do it by ourselves.

So, we’re absolutely thrilled to be joined in our efforts by individuals who’ve gone the distance before, with advisors including:

  • Anouka Dhadda, former No. 10 Head of Energy and Net Zero. Anouka has led the climate and environment agenda at the highest levels for several years, including writing the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and working on COP26.
  • Ashley Ramrachia, founder and CEO of Academy, and ex-THG Chief People Officer. Ash built the recruitment engine to hire and train 1000+ people annually during THG’s hypergrowth phase towards their $7bn IPO, and is now pioneering high-growth home-grown tech talent at Academy.
  • Berthe Latreille, former MD of JP Morgan EMEA Investment Banking. Berthe has proven top-tier operational, transformation and corporate finance expertise.
  • Liam Ray, co-founder and CEO of Virtus Energy. Liam is a highly-seasoned domain expert and serial entrepreneur in renewable energy and sustainable transport.
  • Tom Pakenham, founder and MD of Chargelight, and ex-OVO Director of Electric Vehicles. Tom has built and sold two other green companies, including the world’s first low emissions taxi company.
  • Wing Chan, co-founder and CEO of Sourceful, who are building sustainable Live Supply Flow for businesses and raised a $20m Series A led by Index Ventures.

This post is part 1 of 2 in a short series that we’ve written to introduce greenworkx.

In this post, we covered the green skills emergency that we’re tackling, and the team we’ve assembled to take it on.

In part 2, we’ll tell you more about what we’re building, our progress to date, and how you can get involved.