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Upskilling, CPD & Training

Upskilling describes workers learning new skills, or building on current skills, through education and training. Training is the teaching of these skills, knowledge or behaviours and is often delivered in the form of a short course. Typically, qualifications relate to longer-term study. In recent years, there has been a rise in micro-credentials, which refers to bite-size, shorter-term learning focusing on a specific area. Often studied online, micro-credentials usually result in certification.

People retrain for different reasons, which could include a change in personal circumstances or job role, redundancy or unemployment, a shift of career or sector, or a desire to learn something new. According to a report by Hays, “over half (51%) of professionals said they would consider re-skilling into the sustainability sector.”

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Learning in the UK – regional variations

The UK education and skills landscape differs across the four devolved nations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When researching, ensure that you check the relevant websites for further information in these regions.  

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Why upskill?

Helps give you a competitive edge in the jobs market

Can support your organisation to grow

Helps you follow your purpose and passion

Enables you to develop your skill set

Keeps you up to date with trends and knowledge

Upskilling can often result in a certificate, or micro-credential.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

  • CPD is a term which refers to the activities and approaches that individuals take towards developing, learning and growth during their career. It helps you to track the skills, knowledge and experience that you develop over time.
  • Recording CPD is often required by professional organisations, such as IEMA, as it demonstrates your commitment to the profession and your future career growth.
  • Numerous activities count towards CPD, such as attending webinars, reading reports or articles, mentoring, networking, or taking courses. Organisations will often support your development, and allow you to take time out for CPD.

Financial support for training

As well as finding the time to set aside for upskilling, cost can often be a barrier to training. Training is an investment in your future; consider the long-term impact that the training you do will have – will it help you to gain a new job, or gain a promotion with a higher salary? Can you access any specific pots of funding for what you’re looking to do? Are there any free courses to give you an insight into the training and help you decide if it is worth investing in?

The grants and bursaries available to you will depend on where you live and the learning programme you’re interested in. Refer to relevant information for your location and study plans – some links of interest include:

Skills Bootcamps

Skills Bootcamps are free, flexible courses available in England, for those aged 19 or over, and who meet the eligibility requirements. The courses take up to 16 weeks, and offer a guaranteed job interview for those who complete the training.

Your organisation can support you

“Of the employers who said they are hiring staff for sustainability roles, 81% said they would consider hiring someone who doesn’t possess all the right skills into an environmental or sustainability role with the intention of upskilling them.” – Hays.

It is worth speaking to your employer if there’s a training opportunity that you think would benefit your current role, or your organisation more widely. Employers may be able to support you through your learning. In fact, around 90% of IEMA training candidates are paid for by their organisations.

IEMA training, offered worldwide

IEMA courses equip individuals with the right knowledge and skills to achieve their environment and sustainability goals. They have been developed with leading businesses and authorities to ensure they meet the needs of industry. These courses can be accessed through IEMA’s global training partner network.

IEMA is on the ELCAS Scheme, which means that there are funded IEMA courses for military leavers.

In Wales, certain individuals can access full funding for IEMA courses, through Personal Learning Account (PLA) support, as the Welsh government has provided colleges with £2m in targeted funding for green skills. If you’re over 19 and living in Wales, and you meet certain eligibility criteria, you may be able to access IEMA training. You can read more about the specific Green Personal Learning accounts on the website.

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IEMA is the membership body for environment and sustainability professionals