Whisky barrels viewed from above

Green skills for sustainable futures

27 Feb 23

Climate change and the direct effect it has on our lives drives what we need to do now and for our future.

Zero Waste Scotland is committed to supporting people and organisations to develop the learning and green skills that are not only required to face this challenge but will also allow us to thrive as we transition net-zero. As part of a wider commitment to Scotland's skills development, Zero Waste Scotland is the delivery partner for implementing Scotland's Climate Emergency Skills and Action Plan over the next five years.

Education and skills development

For the future and existing workforce, we need to build knowledge, skills, awareness, and thinking by putting the circular economy and climate change into the existing curriculum, professional development, skills systems and continuous professional development provision.

Zero Waste Scotland, in collaboration with partners, has developed:

  • School curriculum resources (nursery, primary and secondary);
  • Apprenticeships (foundation, modern & graduate);
  • College and university courses;
  • Continuous professional development programmes;
  • Lifelong learning networks;
  • Work-based learning to upskill the existing workforce;
  • Training for educators (teachers, lecturers, vocational trainers) to build their understanding and capacity of the circular economy and how they can build this into their teaching.

Circular economy in education

All young people have the right to learn for sustainability as part of living, growing and flourishing in a fair, equal and sustainable Scotland.

Circular economy in education
Developing skills in the workplace

Developing skills in the workplace

The transition to a low carbon and circular economy will reshape how society works, and what type of work is required.

Working in Partnership

The impact of climate change upon Scotland’s workforce and skills supply is of immediate concern and sits at the heart of Skills 2035: A Human Future. Tackling these issues will require a concerted effort across all sectors of the economy and collaboration across the enterprise and skills agencies.

Zero Waste Scotland takes a whole systems approach to working together to maximise impact and reach. Partnership and collaboration are key, as no one agency can do this alone. In support of the Scottish Government’s circular economy strategy, Making Things Last,  Zero Waste Scotland has led on the development of the Circular Economy Education and Skills Hub. Its ambition is to embed low carbon and circular economy skills and thinking in Scotland’s existing and future workforce, including the next generation of business leaders, designers, and innovators. This is a collaborative and coordinating network of partners each playing a pivotal role in providing leadership, strategic direction, influence, and guidance in developing the circular economy and climate change knowledge, skills, standards, behaviours, attitudes, and education.

Working with partners, we co-design, develop and deliver projects that will enable an increase in knowledge, education and skills in relation to the circular economy and climate change specifically working with Scotland's colleges and universities to develop Executive Leadership, net-zero to support CPD across and through workplaces and organisations.

We work with teachers, schools, lecturers, and skills and education agencies to codesign cross curricular resources including work based learning modules evidencing core and meta skills and training for learners and assessors that reflect a 'real world' context. 

Research and Policy

Our commitment to learning and skills development is based upon ensuring our work is evidence-led and brings cutting-edge research to inform and influence.

Our Future of Work report was published with our partners Circle Economy, Amsterdam in 2020. The report provides vital data on how sustainable the nation’s workforce is now and how to drive progress forward by creating valuable new jobs and businesses to forge a truly circular economy.

Working with our policy research and evaluation team we:

  • Establish critical evidence on material production, consumption and waste;
  • Form new partnerships which extend our reach to achieve more than we could on our own;
  • Inspire people and businesses by providing compelling stories illustrating how they can take action;
  • Test and evaluate new ideas with partner organisations to help build the case for further action.


Our 'Future of Work' podcast discusses the job that can’t wait – from homeworking to turning waste from whisky into valuable new products, there are countless ways to help make every job green. Our Chief Executive, Iain Gulland, discuss the challenges and opportunities which doing business differently brings.

Partnering with circular organisations

We can all take steps to develop the knowledge and skills required to move Scotland towards net-zero and a circular economy not only where we work but also where we live.

At Zero Waste Scotland we recognise and value the great influence and efforts that staff and volunteers in local organisations provide in reaching out to individuals, understanding their issues and providing local solutions.  Our aim is to support organisations with the tools, knowledge, and resources needed for their own transition to net-zero. This includes cascade training for your staff, supported by toolkits, leaflets and advice on how you may want to work with your organisaton.

Get in touch

To find out more please get in touch by completing the form below or email: learning@zerowastescotland.org.uk.