Drax is aiming to become a carbon negative company by 2030 | Credit: Drax
Energy firm joins Social Mobility Pledge led by former education secretary Justine Greening in bid to help plug green skills gap and support disadvantaged communities
Drax has set out a new ambition to “boost social mobility” for one million people in the UK by 2025, this week unveiling a plan to improve green skills, education, employability, and opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds and in under-invested areas of the country over the next five years.
The energy firm said it was “determined to bridge the opportunity gap” through a programme of apprenticeships, community outreach programmes, and education sessions, as it accelerates efforts to become a ‘carbon negative’ company by 2030.
Profound economic changes are on their way as the UK shifts away from fossil fuels towards greener industries in pursuit of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, with significant ramifications for jobs and communities reliant on high carbon sectors.
The UK also faces a potential skills shortfall as new clean industries emerge in support of the net zero transition, and calls have grown in recent months for businesses and policymakers to step up investment in training and resources to help plug a green jobs and skills gap.
Clare Harbord, Drax Group director of corporate affairs, said businesses had “an important part to play in making sure we have a future workforce with the skills to deliver the new technologies needed to decarbonise the economy and meet the UK’s net zero target”.
“By boosting education, skills and employability opportunities for a million people, we can start to level the playing field and build a more diverse workforce,” she said. “This will make the energy sector stronger and able to make a more significant contribution to the UK’s green recovery from Covid.”
Drax has in recent years converted a number of its coal power generation units to run on biomass, and is currently developing bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technologies for use at these facilities to enable the firm to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than its operations create.
It is also a member of the Zero Carbon Humber project to use BECCS, hydrogen and other CCS technologies to decarbonise heavy industry across the North East region, forming part of the energy firm’s target to become a carbon negative company by 2030.
The firm today promised to “use its scale and resources throughout communities to build on its existing progress in boosting opportunities for young people across the country, and those affected most by the direct public health and socioeconomic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The new ‘Mobilising a Million’ goal has been launched as part of new social mobility action plan published today, which has been developed by Drax alongside the Social Mobility Pledge, a campaign led by former Education Secretary Justine Greening.
“Businesses like Drax have a crucial role to play in levelling up, and ensuring that our country’s net zero targets and ambitions are not just met, but delivered in a way that creates opportunities and levels up communities like Selby, Ipswich, Northampton and in Scotland where Drax has its operations,” said Greening. “In publishing this Opportunity Action Plan and marking its ambition to improve skills, education, employability and opportunity for one million people – Drax has demonstrated its commitments to making a positive social impact.”
The move follows the launch earlier this month of a new commission from think tank Onward tasked with exploring how to manage the societal and employment impacts that could hit carbon intensive industries and communities as the transition to net zero emissions gathers pace.