Glasgow Green Wardens scheme: Greening the council and boosting employability
Glasgow, United Kingdom
Glasgow gives employment opportunities in the green sector to people with a low employability profile through a traineeship scheme with the city council.
The ‘Green Wardens’ scheme is a traineeship programme within the Glasgow council’s Carbon Management Team (CMT). It aims to build up the skills and expertise of people who have been long term unemployed. The programme employs people as ‘green wardens’ to work across various greening and sustainability projects. The wardens complete a two week introductory training programme, which includes an induction to the council activities and its carbon reduction targets. The wardens are then assigned to support carbon reduction projects across the council.
Throughout their deployment, the wardens receive assistance from the Carbon Management Team (CMT), which oversees that the council meets its carbon reduction target. The Team provides help in preparation for carrying out audits, reviewing reports, and helping with data analysis.
The implemented solutions decrease energy use by 5,751,281 kWh and CO2 emissions by 1,979 tonnes annually. The scheme also benefits the council as it is cost neutral and the savings from the reductions of council’s carbon emissions offset the costs of employment. This means that at least 12 individuals will go through the programme each year.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/353-green-web_final.pdf
Background and objectives
Glasgow has long struggled with relatively high unemployment - 9.8% in 2013-2014. Of those people who work, many receive low pay. The problem of exclusion in the city is exacerbated by the fact that many people are offered short term or casual employment. There is a need in the city to improve the work prospects for residents, to enhance living conditions, and reduce poverty.
At the same time, Glasgow City Council aspires to be a leader in terms of sustainability and greening. It has set the ambitious target of reducing its carbon emissions by 30% by 2020. However limited financial and staffing resources are hindering these ambitions.
The ‘Green Wardens’ scheme is a traineeship programme within the council’s Carbon Management Team (CMT). It aims to build up the skills and expertise of people who have been long term unemployed; early school leavers, young people not in education, training or employment (NEETs), and people recently discharged from the Armed Forces, who need support in transitioning into employment outside of the military. The programme employs people as ‘green wardens’ to work across various greening and sustainability projects in the core council services and Arm’s Length External Organisations  (ALEOs). The scheme employs individuals for up to one year, which is seen as a stepping stone to further employment. The green economy is continuously growing and Glasgow already has the highest concentration of renewable energy jobs in Scotland. The scheme supports unemployed people to take advantage of these new employment opportunities.
The wardens complete a two week introductory training programme, which includes an induction to the council activities and its carbon reduction targets. Participants are also trained in using the council’s energy management software, energy and waste surveying, and audit report writing.
The wardens are then assigned to support carbon reduction projects across the council. The examples of activities include:
- Carrying out energy audits to identify potential energy savings in specific departments. The audits are part of the process that sets up an individual annual carbon reduction target for a specific service or ALEO and to create an action plan to achieve it.
- Supporting the implementation of these action plans.
- Analysing the council’s transport fleet and creating plans to make the fleet more carbon efficient.
- Identifying sites where waste is not correctly sorted and recommending and planning improvements.
- Promoting behavioural change to support carbon reduction targets among the administration’s staff, pupils and other users of council and ALEOs’ services with trainings and presentations.
The wardens are trained and supervised by the Carbon Management Team (CMT), which oversees that the council meets its carbon reduction target. The wardens receive assistance throughout their deployment, including in preparation for carrying out audits, reviewing reports, and helping with data analysis. Due to the high level of support, and because the wardens often see their recommendations carried forward, their self confidence increases.
 Arm’s Length External Organisations are companies, trusts and other bodies that are separate from the local authority but are subject to local authority control or influence, for example ‘Glasgow Life’ that manages the city’s leisure facilities, libraries and museums.
Financing and resources
The scheme was designed to be cost neutral, with the savings identified and implemented by the wardens offsetting the cost of their employment. However, due to the savings achieved within the first year of the programme, it has now been given a permanent budget of £200,000. This means that at least 12 individuals will go through the programme each year.
Results and impacts
The scheme has been active for a year and so far 16 wardens have been taken on as part of four separate groups. Four of the 16 wardens have already secured full time employment and a further two are investigating starting up their own green businesses.
To date the green wardens have identified changes that could save the council £391,225. The implemented solutions decrease energy use by 5,751,281 kWh and CO2 emissions by 1,979 tonnes annually. The green wardens also improved recycling in leisure centres and museums – work which is being replicated throughout the council and Arm’s Length External Organisations.
Lessons learned and transferability
In Green Jobs for social inclusion (see references), EUROCITIES identifies three main factors that contribute to the success of these city initiatives to create green jobs for social inclusion at the local level.
1. Combining demand and supply side interventions: an intervention does not solely focus on developing people’s competences, skills and motivation (supply side intervention) but also aims to create a tangible route into the labour market (demand side intervention).
On the demand side, the programme's objective is to provide a ‘protected’ working environment with the view of supporting people to gain real work experience to enable them to compete in the mainstream labour market.
These demand side interventions are then complemented by well-matched activation and training measures (supply side interventions) helping people to gain specific skills and improve their chances of accessing the labour market.
2. Linking the interventions to local employment opportunities
The second success factor is the strong link between the programmes and local employment opportunities. Cities as the level of government closest to the people have an in-depth knowledge of their local labour markets. They can design programmes in line with local economic demand and prepare people for jobs that are available locally. The effectiveness of the demand and supply interventions is made stronger when they are grounded in local businesses and job market needs.
3. Tailoring activation measures to the specific needs of people
The third success factor of the programmes is linking the activation measures to the specific needs of the target groups.
For local authorities, programmes that combine greening and social inclusion bring added value, particularly during periods of budgetary constraint and growing demand for services. Integrated programmes that address several objectives with one investment bring efficiency to local interventions. Given the longer term perspective of the sector, linking job seekers to local jobs in the green economy should continue to bring results as the sector is set to grow.
More information on the success factors: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/green_jobs_for_social_inclusion_intro_FINAL.pdf
"Local strategies to implement national energy efficiency schemes", in Green Jobs for social inclusion, EUROCITIES, June 2015, 24-25.