In February, more than 600 secondary school pupils attended Scotland’s first Green Careers Expo, aimed at showcasing Green Energy, Green Careers and Green Pathways on their doorstep.

Organised by Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highlands (DYWICH), in partnership with Skills Development Scotland, over 40 employers, training providers, educational institutions, and partners came together to inspire the next generation.

This comes as more than 10,000 green career opportunities are set to come to the Highlands over the next ten years. This will be led by the development of the Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, as well as Scotland’s wider net-zero carbon ambitions.

Held at Alness Academy, the Expo was sponsored by SSE Renewables, RI Cruden, Buchan Offshore Wind, Inverness & Cromarty Firth Green Port and Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks.

The parents and local community were also invited to come along during the lunchtime session.

Liz Fletcher, Programme Manager at Developing the Young Workforce Inverness & Central Highlands said: “It was fantastic to see the young people getting hands on with interactive activities which have been a great catalyst for wider conversations between the young people and employers. It all brought to life the variety of the training, jobs and careers available both now and in the future.

“Each of our sponsors also presented to groups of the 14 secondary schools from across the region that have taken part throughout the day. They highlighted the breadth of the opportunities available while also talking about their own experiences – some joined their businesses as apprentices, some have moved into the sector more recently – all were extremely passionate about the future for the green sector in the Scottish Highlands.

“Through this event we have opened up pupils and teachers eyes to the possibilities – that the green sector involves more than just the obvious pathways such as engineers and electricians. From HR, project management and finance, to legal, data analysts and communications – the green sector is open to every interest and discipline.

“We would like to extend a big thank you to our partner, Skills Development Scotland, and our sponsors for their support in enabling this event to take place.”

Calum MacPherson, Chief Executive of Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, who officially opened the event, said: “The Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport is a partnership of around 30 organisations working together to create a Green Freeport in the Highlands.

“Partners include the main Ports around Inverness & Cromarty Firth, Highland Council, HIE and other regional and national businesses, academia and the public sector. The primary objective is to create employment, attract inward investment, maximise the local supply chain benefits, and to position the Highlands at the heart of the country’s commitment to becoming a net-zero economy. The Green Freeport will become one of the largest green energy hubs in Europe. This represents an opportunity to transform the region in terms of population retention and economic growth, and to provide future generations with an improved environment and job opportunities.”

Published in December 2020, the Climate Emergency Skills Action Plan sets out the Scottish Government’s plan to maximise the transition to net-zero for Scotland, ensuring that Scotland’s workforce has the skills required to make the transition to net-zero a just transition, fair and inclusive to all. Demand for green jobs and green skills is expected to increase rapidly because of policy and legislative drivers and consumer choice.