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Career Connect

Environmental Sustainability Interview with Michelle Wright Careers Adviser, Wirral Career Connect Team

Career Connect is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its work, but can you outline what that means for you as a Careers Adviser Michelle?

I’m based in the Birkenhead office, where we see a lot of young people for help and advice to support them into jobs or learning. In our team we’re very aware of the importance of recycling and reducing all our waste. For example, we’ve got a box for our plastic or glass bottles which prevents it ending up in the landfill. We also have a large paper recycling unit which gets collected about once a month by the same company that does our document archiving, so it means just one vehicle on the road to do the pick-up.

Do you have any idea how much paper your team recycles?

We get regular reports back from our head office to tell us how we’re doing. Last year we managed to reduce our paper recycling by 62%… not because we didn’t recycle enough paper, but because we managed to reduce the amount of paper we were using by doing things more digitally. We also send off all of our ICT equipment for recycling, once any confidential data is removed, that includes phones, printers and cables.

How about reducing carbon emissions from your work?

There are a few different ways we try to tackle this. In the centre we’re conscious of how we use energy which includes switching off at night and using low energy lighting. Where we try to make the most impact is the way we manage our travel as a team. We deliver a lot of our services out in the community, so we use route planning software to take the most direct routes when doing home visits and we also get an incentive on our travel expenses when we car-share on business journeys. Many of our team also travel by public transport around the Wirral which is well serviced by bus and train.

One of the services we offer is “Travel Training” for young people. Not only does this enable young people to travel independently to and from learning provision or apprenticeships, but it also helps some of our most vulnerable young people to feel more confident using public transport.

Do you feel that young people are more committed to the environmental agenda?

Absolutely, I’ve had some really interesting discussions with young people about their concerns for the planet. There are growing opportunities for people to plan a career in the Green Economy, especially in the Liverpool City Region where it’s one of the growth sectors. As a Careers Adviser, I’ve been able to inspire young people to consider their own career opportunities in this area by thinking about the skills and qualifications they would need to work in these jobs. For example, I recently supported a young person applying for an apprenticeship for a Wind Farm Engineer. When we explored the role and where they might be working, it completely changed their perception of the traditional engineering role. Good GCSE grades were needed, alongside a provisional driving licence because the job requires a lot of travel.

Is there anything else that you feel Career Connect could do?

I think we’re doing a good job to minimise our waste and reduce the environmental impact of our work, but the one area that I’m concerned about is how Covid-19 and the necessary PPE will affect us all, not just in Career Connect but more generally. We are using washable masks which are reusable, but I’m concerned about all those single-use gloves, disposable masks and cleaning solutions everyone is using at the moment, it’s going to have an impact on all the environmental progress we’ve been making.

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