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May 2024 / Company News

The Welsh Government has ambitious plans for a Net Zero Wales, highlighting education and upskilling as key factors needed to achieve this goal by 2050.

From a business perspective, this means employers will need to put sustainability at the centre of their future planning and operations.

In response to this, Ƶ, Wales’ leading training provider, has launched a suite of qualifications with a focus on helping businesses become more environmentally conscious.

Sustainability is at the heart of Ƶ. Last year, the organisation received ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system – an international standard. It is currently the only Welsh Government-funded training provider to hold the status.

As such, Ƶ is well-equipped to deliver impactful green qualifications that will give learners a better understanding of their personal and professional environmental impact.

One organisation that has seen the benefits of work-based green qualifications is packaging provider DS Smith.

The team’s learning journey began when Bev Fowler, DS Smith’s Head of Business Services, Global Master Data, began chatting with Ƶ’s Management & Business Services Route Manager, Kelly Harry, about sustainability. Ƶ had just launched a new accreditation in Sustainability and Bev ultimately took it ‘as a bit of a guinea pig’ to see if the course would be beneficial for her team.

“I was shocked by the impact one person can make to the environment and the difference we can make,” Bev said.

“When I did my carbon footprint as part of that course I was horrified at the amount of waste that comes just from me and my very small family.”

With recycling forming a large portion of DS Smith’s operations, the business has a commitment to the circular economy and following completion of the accreditation Bev was keen to bring further projects to life in Caerphilly (the home of the company’s UK Business Services office and the Recycling UK Head Office).

Bev initially put 19 members of the Business Services team through the course, with a further 50 expected to complete later this year.

“I think we all need to know the difference we make,” Bev added. “We all play a part in what this world looks like in the future so how can we make a positive difference and have a bit of fun along the way?

“The course helped me think ‘ what can I do to really make a difference?’

“It’s all very well sitting the accreditation but how do you then use it moving forward and a lot of the activity we’ve got planned for the summer – in terms of planting and creating bee boxes etc – came from that.”

When a business chooses Ƶ to deliver their work-based learning, an accessor will work with them to ensure the course works for both employer and employees. In DS Smith’s case, there were initial queries over time constraints.

“I was a little bit concerned about the time the accreditation would take,” Bev explained. “There is pre-coursework that you have to do, you can’t just rock up on the day for the accreditation and expect to pass it with a good mark. We wondered how we could make the course fit for our colleagues as we knew if I said that you need to do two to three hours’ worth of work in your own time and then spend a day on the course, plus a test at the end, that might turn people off.

“Kelly (at Ƶ) was great because she worked with me on how we could make it fit. We scheduled time for colleagues to complete pre-coursework while they are at work and Kelly condensed the course so that they could come in, do the face-to-face element and the test well within the perimeters of their normal working day.”

Ƶ sees the businesses it works with as a partnership and will work with them throughout completion of qualifications and beyond.

“Kelly and I talk regularly about content and how the colleagues have done,” Bev continued. “We’ve had one colleague who didn’t quite get there but she has offered support to get them through the re-sit.

“Working with Kelly has been great and there is always someone I can ask for help or raise a query with. I would recommend any business to get involved with it because it just adds value.”

If you would like to learn more about Ƶ’s green qualifications, including its new diploma in Energy and Carbon Management, you can find further details here.

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