Nature based solutions provide an essential response to the climate and biodiversity crises. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) estimates that over 30% of emissions can be addressed through nature based solutions.
And yet, based on existing evidence, the workforce needed to implement nature-based solutions is currently insufficient in number, skills and training to reach net zero by 2045.
This Action Plan sets out an overview of priority actions to fill gaps so that we can realise the potential for jobs within the nature based sector, and develop the skills necessary to meet Scotland’s net zero targets. The Action Plan does not attempt to capture all activity within the nature based sector but to focus on areas where there are specific gaps, where we can make progress now, and where NatureScot can add value.
This Action Plan signals our intention to engage at strategic level to support the development of the skills needed in nature-based sectors to implement actions to reverse biodiversity loss and meet net zero targets.
It is referred to as an initial Action Plan as it focuses on the year ahead while further discussions take place to agree on longer term actions required over the next three years.
It is based on stakeholder discussions following publication of NatureScot’s report on an initial assessment of nature based jobs and skills to meet net zero (December 2020).
A summary list of the range of nature based jobs is provided in Annex 1. And an Overview of nature based skills development is provided in Annex 2.
The over-arching context for this work is provided by CESAP (Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan) the principles of the Just Transition and the need for a Green Recovery. A summary of CESAP Priorities is provided in Annex 3.
Natural capital has been identified as one of the four wealth generators in Scotland’s green recovery, with research showing that investments in natural capital are one of the most effective ways to generate economic multipliers, create jobs and address climate change.
NatureScot’s initial assessment of nature-based jobs[i] and skills concluded that a clear focus on nature-based jobs, their economic potential, workforce and skills requirements, is needed to enable the nature-based sector to play its part in providing fair work and tackling inequalities in a low carbon and green economy.
It identified that the nature-based sector makes a significant contribution to the Scottish economy amounting to 195,000 jobs or 7.5% of Scotland’s workforce in 2019. Nature-based jobs grew at more than five times the rate of all jobs in Scotland in the period 2015-19 and accounted for one third of all job growth in Scotland in this period.
Significant further growth in nature-based jobs is anticipated on the back of expansion in activities required to meet our net zero targets. Growth in nature-based sectors such as peatland restoration, green infrastructure, woodland creation & restoration and blue carbon, between now and 2030 is expected to be significant, particularly given the role of nature-based solutions recognised in the Climate Change Plan Update.
We identify four priority themes where we can add value, and where there are evident gaps:
- Strategic Engagement – to help identify and support the mainstreaming of skills required for the implementation of nature-based solutions across the Scottish economy
- Engaging and inspiring young people – to support and empower young people gaining skills and accessing employment in nature-based sectors. This will contribute to efforts to address unemployment, develop a future workforce in sectors with a key role to play in reaching net-zero and support a Green Recovery from Covid-19. Co-design with young people will play an important part in developing the measures proposed.
- Understanding demand – work to better understand skills gaps and shortages at a regional level and in key sectors, to help ensure that that skills relevant to implementation of nature-based solutions are being developed and supported throughout a range of disciplines. This will be through targeted, collaborative research on the current and future skills needs of nature-based sectors.
- Peatland restoration and nature-based solutions – to lead a collaborative approach to identifying, quantifying and addressing skills shortages in peatland restoration and implementation of nature-based solutions.
To make progress against each of these four key priority themes, we identify 12 priority actions summarised below:
|Theme||Project||Activity||Outputs||CESAP priority areas1|
Provide clear advice to Scottish Government and partner organisations on the scale of, and skills pathways for nature-based jobs.
Provide leadership to co-ordinate and collaborate across the nature based sector on the skills agenda
Support mainstreaming of skills required for the implementation of nature-based solutions across the Scottish economy, including helping to identify the skills pathways required for a transition to net-zero
Contribute to delivery of the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP) and the Skills Action Plan for Rural Scotland (SAPRS).
|Set up and convene a Nature Based Skills Reference Group||6|
|Young People||2.||Careers Advice||Develop careers advice and case studies for deployment by partners such as Skills Development Scotland and the education sector to raise awareness of the scope and range of nature-based jobs.||
Series of short films completed
Webinar to raise awareness of nature-based jobs and skills
|1 & 3|
|-||3.||Perceptions and experiences||Research into perceptions of and barriers to access in nature-based jobs.||Research complete and shared||1 & 3|
|-||4.||Pathways into nature-based sectors||Developing initiatives which engage young people with pathways into nature-based careers. These include a project supporting placements in riparian / Natural Flood Management sectors as well as scoping the potential for accreditation of volunteering.||Placements in post||1 & 3|
|-||5.||Apprenticeships||Engaging with the review and adaptation of frameworks to ensure they deliver the skills needed by nature-based sectors. Initial focus is on ensuring the MA Rural Skills can accommodate skills needed in peatland restoration and in rangering.||
Review of NOS for Game & Wildlife
Additions to Rural Skills framework drafted
|Understanding demand||6.||Nature based sectoral research||Carry out research in partnership with SEFARI to explore skills pathways into nature-based sectors.||Report published||2|
|-||7.||Sectoral analysis of flood management and river restoration||Develop a better understanding of the specific skills requirements for nature-based sectors, at national and regional level, and developing initiatives with partners based around those skills needs. In the first instance, focus on skills in river restoration and natural flood management.||Webinar to discuss findings with partners.||2|
|-||8.||Diversity and equality within nature based sector||Working with the two National Parks and Backbone to address barriers to engagement of minority communities in nature-based sectors.||Symposium delivered||5|
Developing guidance on green finance for land managers to support a better understanding of emerging opportunities.
Developing an event bringing together rural employers to consider the skills needed in future for integrated land management.
Online guidance developed
Event developed, promoted and well-attended.
4 & 6
|Peatland||10.||Peatland demand||Understand demand for peatland skills – sectoral analysis of jobs in peatland to include which jobs, where they are/will be located and when they will arise.||Research commissioned in partnership||2|
|-||11.||Developing peatland restoration skills in crofting areas||Raising awareness of land managers/crofters in Shetland and Western Isles of skills required to deliver peatland restoration work.||Series of workshops||1 & 3|
|-||12.||Peatland capacity||Support a rapid development of the peatland restoration sector through provision of practical on-site training and guidance for contractors and support for skills for land managers and their advisers.||Plan developed by sector specialist||3|
NatureScot is supporting 37 modern apprenticeships, student and graduate placements through its own internal £1m Programme for Youth Employment. This demonstrates our commitment to support skills development required for the nature based sector, to provide job opportunities for young people and to increase the diversity of people working for NatureScot.
Longer term actions and key points
The development of actions on a longer time frame will form part of ongoing discussions with partners. Key points in these discussions are:
- Climate and nature literacy – must become core skills across all disciplines and at all levels. This applies to planners, engineers, architects and educators, as much as it does to farmers, foresters and fishermen.
- Sector attractiveness - Nature-based jobs need to offer clear career progression routes in order to attract a better gender and ethnic balance and broaden the workforce demographic.
- Engagement with Higher & Further Education Institutes will drive awareness of the skills need for a nature-rich, net-zero future, support research in nature-based solutions and ensure practical and effective tools, including remote sensing, robotics and data analytics, are available for nature-based sectors.
- Further sectoral work is needed, to understand the emerging requirements for future skills and current gaps and shortages. Support and training across particular sectors will be needed to help understand the role of the sector in mitigating / adapting to climate change.
- Skills planning - A strategic approach to skills planning across and between sectors, allied with good connections between local labour markets and training providers is essential in addressing operational skills shortages.
- Green finance – skills issues will be identified as green finance mechanisms are developed. A partnership approach will be required to develop any skills interventions required.
|Sectors||Roles and skills|
The financing needed for nature based solutions to the climate emergency and other societal problems.
Investing in nature-based solutions - Investment in nature-based solutions can deliver carbon reductions at a fraction of the cost of engineered solutions, at the same time as enhancing natural assets and delivering a range of ecosystem services.
|3.||Transforming land use and future rural support - the Committee for Climate Change highlights the need for transformative land use change if Scotland and the UK is to meet its climate change targets.||
|4.||Urban Green Infrastructure and active travel targeted at improving disadvantaged areas makes our towns and cities more attractive for people to live and work in, and attracts jobs, businesses and investment||
|5.||Nature based tourism makes up about 40% of all tourism in Scotland, contributing £1.4bn to the Scottish economy, supporting approximately 40,000 jobs. Tourism is one of the key sectors that has been heavily impacted by Covid 19.||
|6.||Sustainable marine management||
|Nature based sectors||Overview||Key partners|
|1.||Peatland||Rapid development of the peatland restoration sector to upskill those required to design and implement peatland restoration projects.||
Crichton Carbon Centre
|2.||Forestry||SFTT Skills Action Plan addresses sectoral skills requirements.||
Scottish Forest & Timber
|3.||Agriculture||Transformative land use change requires new skills for low carbon and regenerative agriculture.||
|4.||Natural Flood Risk Management||Development of skills in river restoration, coastal management and SUDS.||Catchment Managment
|5.||Urban Green Infrastructure||Skills required in planning and implementing nature-based solutions and active travel opportunities in urban areas.||
|6.||Nature based tourism||Overview provided by STERG (Scottish Tourism Emergency Response Group), and by Skills Investment Plan for Scotland’s Tourism Sector.||VisitScotland
Scottish Tourism Alliance
|7.||Sustainable marine management and blue carbon||Development of marine science and technology as well as skills requirements in offshore wind development.||Marine Scotland
|8.||Green finance||Development of expertise in green investment mechanisms.||Private investment sector
|9.||Renewable energy||Skills development required in tidal, wind, solar technologies.||SDS
Annex 3 - CESAP
The Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan (CESAP), launched in December 2020 identifies 6 Priority Areas for Skills Action to Support the Transition to Net Zero that will help Scotland capitalise on job opportunities emerging from the net-zero transition.
The CESAP sets out a broad framework for action around six priority areas:
- Supporting a green labour market recovery from COVID-19- the immediate response to the labour market implications of the pandemic, and the collective action that will be taken to support a green labour market recovery.
- Building better understanding and evidence of future skills needs to support Scotland’s transition to net zero- greater collaboration and information-sharing as key to developing a more informed and responsive skills system in the future
- Developing the future workforce for the transition to net zero- the collective action to be taken to develop the future pipeline of talent, as well as the creating greater agility and flexibility in the skills system to respond to opportunities as they emerge.
- Driving awareness and action to support reskilling and upskilling for the transition to net zero- the action required from industry, individuals, and wider society, particularly around planning for and taking up the skills and training needed.
- Ensuring fairness and inclusion in the skills system as part of a just transition to net zero- actions to ensure that the skills system makes a central contribution to a Just Transition.
- Taking a collaborative approach to ensure a skills system responsive to changing demands- the transition to net zero will require co-ordinated action and investment across employers, the skills system, government and its agencies.
The CESAP sets out significant strategic changes required in Scotland’s labour market to meet net zero. While it focuses on five key sectors with a critical contribution to make to net zero and those that employ the largest numbers, it clearly recognises the need for nature-based solutions as an essential component, as well as the need for greater environmental awareness across all jobs in future.
The CESAP Implementation Steering Group will provide the strategic governance to develop this over-arching Route Map into a detailed Action Plan.