Turning Decarbonisation
into Opportunity
for Young People

30 Nov, 23


Comments from Georgina Johnson, Programme Manager at Ahead Partnership

As world leaders meet for COP28 in the coming weeks, the focus is on decarbonisation on a global scale. But many of the conversations focus on the need to upskill current workforces to meet global green skills demands. Although important, this seems to miss out the opportunity to engage the future workforce, today’s young people, at a local level on issues that are important to them and salient in their communities.  

Ahead Partnership has been encouraging engagement with the decarbonisation and green agenda among young people for a number of years. Two years ago during COP26, I ran a youth engagement event at Yorkshire Housing which brought together business volunteers from a range of employers to answer young people’s questions about green jobs and green skills. The event highlighted different perspectives on what the West Yorkshire region would require in order to meet the UK’s Net Zero targets, and showcased young people’s enthusiasm to be part of the solution when it comes to decarbonisation. (You can watch the video from the event here.) 

Since then, Leeds has demonstrated its commitment to decarbonisation, having been named one of 122 global cities leading the way on climate action. The appetite for green skills and green jobs in Leeds, West Yorkshire and beyond is growing, and young people should be a key part of the strategy to encourage widespread uptake of green skills. We have certainly seen this with the increased interest in our green skills activities for programmes and projects across sectors. Things like carbon literacy are becoming ever more important, not just in sectors such as retail, built environment, and transport, but also across professional services including law and finance. We’ve been delighted to have Net Zero Ambassador volunteers join us at events to bring to life the need for green skills in all businesses, and to show young people that no matter what career they choose, they can make a difference to climate change in their role. 


Collaboration is key to harnessing the opportunities that decarbonisation will bring to young people, businesses, and the region.  We couldn’t bring these events and experiences to young people without the expert insights from volunteers and the many employers who support our programmes. Employers are best placed to advise on the skills that they need now and, in the future, and can provide insights on the way industry is implementing decarbonisation strategies at a much faster pace than the school curriculum can keep up with. That’s why it’s so important for young people to hear directly from employers about the cutting-edge research, innovative solutions they’re creating to support decarbonisation. We’ve seen that this can be so inspiring to young people and it broadens their horizons to consider careers that they wouldn’t have known of before.  

The decarbonisation agenda has been in the works for a long while, mostly framed with a negative outlook around skills shortages, and challenges to meet our targets. However, it represents a massive opportunity for the future careers of today’s young people, where they can build a successful, and thriving career with purpose. Focusing on acting on a local level will help us realise this potential and see tangible results in our communities.  

If you’d like to learn more about getting involved in one of our programmes, or green activities, please get in touch.