“Support educators in plugging the sustainability skills gap”, IChemE advises UK Government

“Support educators in plugging the sustainability skills gap”, IChemE advises UK Government

1st March 2022

In a UK Government roundtable discussion held on sustainability education, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) recommended that the Department for Education (DfE) works with higher education institutions to enable the upskilling and reskilling of practising and future engineers to effectively perform roles that deliver sustainable solutions.

IChemE Fellow Jarka Glassey represented IChemE at the DfE roundtable discussion held virtually on 23 February 2022 as part of a consultation ahead of the publication of the Department’s strategy on sustainability and climate change education, due to be launched in April.

Alongside its partners in the National Engineering Policy Centre, IChemE was invited to attend the roundtable to add expert insight regarding how educators can equip young people and those returning to education with the knowledge, skills and tools to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change.

A key proposal made by Glassey was for the DfE, professional engineering institutions and higher education institutions to work together on both the continuing professional development (CPD) of practising engineers and the upskilling of the current generation of engineering students so that future engineers have the skills and knowledge required to successfully transition to or operate in the sustainable sector.

Glassey pointed out the initiatives that IChemE already undertakes in this field, citing the Institution’s climate change position statement and the subsequently revised accreditation guidelines which highlight the importance of sustainability and ethical culture. 

Addressing the need for the integration of sustainability and climate change into normal working practices, Glassey noted how IChemE sees this as key to the practice of chemical engineers. The expectation from assessors from 2023 will be that a sustainability and ethics culture are demonstrated during university accreditations, not just the teaching of these topics as a separate topic.

The discussion also touched upon the need to ensure primary school teachers are appropriately trained and methods were evaluated to encourage children into STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) choices at the post-16 stage as well as STEM careers.

As an expert in chemical engineering education and Professor of chemical engineering education at Newcastle University, UK, Glassey was able to share her extensive experience with policy makers.

Following the session, Glassey said:

“Chemical, biochemical and process engineers have the essential skills and knowledge to develop innovative solutions to the grand societal challenges as highlighted in our Chemical Engineering Matters road map and the priority areas identified by IChemE’s Learned Society Committee. On top of the technical skills and knowledge, the systems analysis and project management skills we can offer to policymakers would ensure effective and timely implementation of sensible policies, whether this is in the sustainability or education arena.

“Chemical engineers must actively get involved in all of the initiatives and actions highlighted by the DfE in this strategy including education, reskilling and upskilling, provision of educational resources and estate management and operation, and we must collaborate with fellow engineers and scientists to ensure that the solutions we arrive at together best address societal needs.

“Like process safety culture, sustainability and ethics culture has to be integral to everything we do.”

The DfE’s strategy Sustainability & Climate Change: A strategy for the education & children’s services systems is due to be released on Earth Day, 22 April 2022.


Sustainability & Climate Change: A draft strategy for the education & children’s services system

UK Government Department for Education


For more information please contact:  

Lucy Cook, Communications Manager, IChemE  
t: +44 (0) 1788 534454  
e: lcook@icheme.org  

Rachael Fraser, Communications Executive, IChemE  
t: +44 (0) 1788 534435  
e: rfraser@icheme.org   

Claire Shepherd, Communications Executive, IChemE   
t: +44 (0) 1788 534457   
e: cshepherd@icheme.org  

What is chemical engineering?

Chemical, biochemical and process engineering is the application of science, maths and economics in the process of turning raw materials into everyday, and more specialist, products. Professional chemical engineers design, construct and manage process operations all over the world. Oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, food and drink, synthetic fibres and clean drinking water are just some of the products where chemical engineering plays a central role.  


The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) advances chemical engineering's contribution worldwide for the benefit of society. We support the development of chemical engineering professionals and provide connections to a powerful network of over 30,000 members in more than 100 countries.  

We support our members in applying their expertise and experience to make an influential contribution to solving major global challenges, and are the only organisation permitted to award Chartered Chemical Engineer status and Professional Process Safety Engineer registration.