TWO colleges have between them received £1.6million to teach green skills at the start of an initiative to equip Dorset’s workforce for the needs of a new era.

The Dorset Green Skills Hub has been launched to ensure the county’s workforce is up to speed with the latest technology in sustainability.

It is a joint initiative between Bournemouth & Poole College, Weymouth College and Skills & Learning Adult Community Education.

More than £800,000 has been awarded to Bournemouth & Poole College to deliver free, short courses for the marine and automotive industries, introducing technicians to electric vehicle and boat engine technologies. The Poole-based Skills & Learning Adult Community Education service will prepare adults to join the green-skilled workforce and has received £50,000 for sustainability awareness training.

Weymouth College has been awarded £800,000 to deliver green “upskilling courses” in construction.

Launching the event at Poole’s Compton Acres, Bournemouth & Poole College principal Phil Sayles said: “Our courses cover virtually every area of the modern economy.

“There’s a new skill set and understanding which is needed across thousands of jobs and that’s the ability to understand the newest greener technologies and processes,” he added.

he said these skills would also be essential for business performance.

“We see this as a first step. It’s a marker we’re putting down about further activities to come, to develop green technology training in our county,” he said.

Lesley Spain, principal learning manager at BCP Council, said the initiative could have a “critical role” in training people for green jobs, which were better paid than traditional jobs.

“In this day and age, our young people feel that we should be doing more to protect the environment and to work in a less resource-hungry way,” she said.

The initiative hopes to train 80 sustainability champions in local businesses. “We would like sustainability champions in every Dorset business by 2030 at least,” she added.

Sharon Jones, economic development officer at BCP Council, said it was important to retain talent in the area.

“We know it’s a beautiful place to live so we want to ensure that when we’re trying to bring people in to study in the area that they get hooked by the incredible businesses in the area and want to stay,” she said.

“Our local businesses are telling us that what’s going to be provided by the green skills hub, what’s planned, is absolutely vital.”

Keynote speaker Luci Isaacson of Climate Vision, who received the British Empire Medal for services to flood risk in Cornwall, congratulated the colleges on the launch.

She advocated learning to adapt to and mitigate climate change. “To become resilient to climate change, we need to learn from the past and put new procedures in place,” she said.

The first, free one- or two-day courses at Bournemouth & Poole College will run until March 31 next year. Those on the automotive course can achieve a level three award in electric and hybrid vehicle system repair and replacement, receiving a licence to work on electric cars.

Marine engineers and electricians on the college’s British Marine-validated course at its Marine Engineering Centre will gain a licence to work on  boat engines.