How Climate Solutions Accelerator is putting Scotland’s young people on course to build a better world

In an era where climate change will be the defining global issue for generations to come, pupils in Scotland can now improve their understanding of the situation – and accelerate their career prospects – by attaining a new SQA-approved certificate 

INTERGENERATIONAL conflict is nothing new. From the wartime parents who despaired of their 1950s teenagers to Baby Boomers who wonder aloud about the behaviour of Millennials and Gen Z, differing views and priorities will continue to divide the generations.  

However, one thing that people of virtually every age can agree upon is that the direction of climate change is indisputable – and if we don’t accelerate our current attempts to tackle it then the consequences are going to be severe. Understanding the challenges is crucial.

Those who will have to live longest with it are primarily Generations X, Y and Z – and their children, in what is now called Generation Alpha. These are people born between 2010 and the mid-2020s. 

However, Baby Boomers also have a dog in this fight – for it is their grandchildren and great grandchildren who will live with the consequences of the actions we take in the next few years.

And those actions must ramp-up drastically if we are to have any chance of success. After the despair of the last few years of the pandemic it is now time for a ‘Great Acceleration’ of words and deeds.

With that in mind, a number of Scottish organisations have come together to develop the Climate Solutions Accelerator (CSA) programme. 

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society, the Universities of Stirling and Edinburgh and online educational Jump Digital have created this new, world-leading project. 

Describing the thinking behind the concept, Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, said: “The curriculum as currently framed is wholly inadequate in covering the climate crisis, so it is not surprising that we are hearing from students themselves, wanting to learn more about the climate emergency. 

“Now and in the future, today’s young people will be driving much of the change required, so it’s vital we give them a solid foundation on which to build, as much in preparation for the world of work as for the protection of our planet.  The more we all understand the solutions, the sooner we can all start ensuring they happen.”

The result of this collective endeavour is believed to be a world first; a customised award which was created by Jump Digital and jointly badged with SQA who will certify successful candidates.

It can be delivered to people of all ages and abilities in both the education and private sector fields.

Derek Houston, Regional Manager at the Scottish Qualifications Authority: “SQA is delighted to be one of the partners involved in the development of this unit, which will equip candidates with an understanding of the science behind climate change and of solutions that exist to help tackle environmental deterioration.”

Jump Digital’s initial Schools Pilot Programme was road-tested by all S5 and S6 pupils and 25 members of staff at Lochside Academy, Aberdeen.  

The feedback from Lochside has now been fine-tuned into the schools’ version of the CSA, which gives school pupils the environmental knowledge and skills that can improve their employability in what is, and will likely remain, a challenging jobs market. 

Neil Hendry, the former Head Teacher at Lochside Academy was enthusiastic about the impact of the course.

He said:“Following a two-day induction programme for the key teachers and School Senior Management Team, our senior students completed the course on their return to school. It was very well received by staff and students, and I was subsequently very impressed by the willingness of Jump Digital to listen to – and make good use of – the feedback we provided.”

Alongside the development of the core course materials, Jump Digital recognised the importance of ensuring that teachers and career advisers also have the necessary knowledge to guide students through the course and help them understand its value in the job market.

Consequently, a Teachers Pack was produced, and ‘Meet the Expert’ webinars developed, where pupils and teachers can ask questions of industry thought-leaders. 

The next phase will see the Schools CS Accelerator being rolled out to over 5,000 pupils in the north-east of Scotland (and their teachers) as part of  Scottish Government’s £14.3million of funding to the North East Economic Recovery and Skills Fund.  

In response to the successful trials and roll-out, Robert Fleeting of Jump Digital said: “Tackling the climate emergency is likely to shape the future careers of so many of our young people, so improving their understanding of the issue at an early stage is essential.”  

Allison Carrington, Regional Skills Planning Lead at Skills Development Scotland (SDS) for the north-east and working with partners to deliver the NEERSF, said: “It is satisfying to see so much progress being made with this innovative programme and the upcoming roll-out will now see up to 5,000 pupils across the north-east of Scotland benefit from its value and relevance in terms of developing employability skills.

“SDS is supporting the diversification of the regional economy and the drive to net zero by delivering activity focusing on supporting a range of learners – including school pupils – to gain digital skills which will help them articulate into further learning or into employment in digital technology.”

Newsquest Scotland commercial director David Ward said: “The Herald is proud to be involved with the Climate Solutions Accelerator (CSA) programme. It is vital that we not only equip Scotland’s young people with an academic appreciation of the climate emergency, but also give them a real, practical understanding of the solutions that exist. The CSA course provides a one-stop solution which informs, inspires and motivates all who participate.”

  • More information about the Climate Change Accelerator is available by emailing or click here

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