Yorkshire is weak on green job creation, it needs to step up or be left behind - Mark Casci

It’s good to be challenged. Hearing points of view, or counter arguments to what you think and feel makes for stronger discourse.

It allows you to look at all points of view. To interrogate your viewpoints and either modify, or codify, what you believe.

Just such an occurrence took place at the start of this week.

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Last Wednesday I used part of my opening speech at the Yorkshire Post’s Excellence in Business Awards to praise the enormous potential of the region’s green energy sector.

Drax has been praised over carbon capture initiative.

It has been predicted that more than 100,000 jobs could be created in Yorkshire when it came to climate friendly industries and some of the most august figures in UK business, including the CBI’s director Tony Danker, have said Yorkshire can lead the world in this sector.

However, this morning my focus turned more towards the here and now, rather than tomorrow’s world.

PwC’s Green Jobs Barometer showed that, in 2021, Yorkshire placed 10th out of 12 regions in the sector.

This interactive tool measured five pillars including carbon intensity of jobs, green job creation and job losses.

Cop26 was last month.

Taking into account the CO2 emissions of each Yorkshire worker, the level was almost double that of the best performing region in this area, London.

The report described what it called Yorkshire’s “persisting dependency” on the extant high-carbon industries as the key driver for this and the analysis as a whole serves as a stark reminder of how far Yorkshire and the Humber’s decarbonisation has advanced against relative comparators.

In short, Yorkshire clearly needs greater support as it transitions away from its historical reliance on heavy industries including manufacture, textiles and agriculture.

And while there are many, such as AESSEAL’s Chris Rea with his Betterworld Solution programme, who are working hard and indeed tirelessly to green their operations, it remains a fact that we are still some way behind where we need to be and there will be a significant challenge in the form of training, education, and/or communications from employers with regards to green workplace practices.

Yorkshire needs to step up.

There were signs of hope though. PwC’s report found the energy sector has shown signs of recent improvement in their capacity building for a greener future. The analysis by PwC of green jobs advertised shows that within the region, this sector has a higher demand for green jobs than the UK regional average.

Given the regional dependency on this sector, its efforts to decarbonise should not only be welcomed but encouraged through targeted policy.

That said, the firm’s regional market lead for the north, Armoghan Mohammed, still felt the need to warn that the region does not get left behind in the green transition.

While I can praise the work being done on carbon capture, using hydrogen to power homes and the growing strength of the region as the designer and manufacturer of off-shore wind turbines, we need to see a wholesale shift toward greener practices if we are to avoid overcooking the planet, and to keep pace with the modern world.

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The news that Yorkshire Building Society chief executive Mike Regnier is to leave his role to take the job as boss of Santander’s UK operations is a significant coup for the region’s financial services sector.

Mike has done a fine job in his four years at the helm at YBS. I have got to know him well and applaud his consistent championing of the region, whether that be on devolution or better connectivity.

Perhaps more than anything, his passion for improving financial literacy among both children and adults, does him great credit. He was worked well on this area and I am sure will have made a difference.

Yorkshire’s loss is Santander’s gain and I am sure he will enjoy much success there as steps away from the mutual sector and back into the world of traditional banking.

I am sure I am not alone in wishing him all the best.