I always enjoy getting the monthly newsletter from The Otesha Project. Unlike so many mail-outs I always find something new in there, maybe a new recipe, a community group or just a great idea. This month’s little gem came straight from Otesha themselves: the PDF of a joint report written with Intentionality CIC evaluating the work the success of their Green Jobs Programme from its launch in 2010 to October 2012. There were two sides to this programme, which were brought together in the East London Green Jobs Alliance. The first aspect was to provide training for young people (especially in marginalised communities) through the Roots of Success ‘environmental literacy curriculum’, which Otesha developed themselves. The second was to create a Greener Jobs Pipeline that guaranteed the transition from work placements to a paid and sustainable job with an environmental focus.
What is most interesting about the report is what it calls ‘Barriers to Success’, which, to you and me, might otherwise be called ‘reasons for failure’. It’s true that Otesha’s Green Jobs Programme was not as successful as they wanted it to be for reasons that were largely out of their control. The Greener Jobs Pipeline presented the biggest difficulties: it was incredibly difficult, especially in this economic climate, to find companies who would commit to providing work placements for the trainees. Otesha could not guarantee work at the end of training as it had wanted to originally. The report highlights failings at both a national and local level that contributed to this lack of uptake. Uncertainty about the government’s policy regarding the delayed Green Deal and changes to Feed-In Tariffs meant that businesses were unwilling to commit to long-term projects. Local authorities also play a huge role in creating jobs and commissioning work, but according to key stakeholders interviewed in the report they were often unwilling to participate actively in the discussions Otesha organised.
By contrast, the organisations who did participate in the East London Green Jobs Alliance have been able to engage with one another positively. The report is confident that this interaction has laid the foundation for future co-operation. The Roots of Success curriculum has also been a great success by itself and 27 trainees have already completed it.
This report highlights how one small charity can take ambitious steps to solving a problem that affects not just youths in East London but people all over the world. The growth of the environmental sector can and should lead to job creation as well as education, but the results of this programme shows that active support from policy makers is still crucial for making it happen. It wouldn’t take much from them; as Appendix 1 of the report shows, there are plenty of people willing to contribute to the project in kind (that is, for free), in this case up to the value of over £8,500. It doesn’t need to be a pipe dream any longer: projects like this really can start improving education, employment rates, and our environment. Let’s help them to help us.