Working in the green sector, we are often consumed by the damage caused to the planet and degradation of environmental capital. We theorise, model and dream about a circular economy where our impact on the planet is neutral or positive. But as a group concerned with saving the planet we must also get serious about the sustainability of human capital.

Amber Rudd’s comments this week on human capital and her suggestion that UK businesses recruit foreign nationals over and above those born in the UK is flawed. The notion that the social and economic ecosystem knitting together colleagues, customers, suppliers, managers and shareholders (AKA businesses) is somehow un-British is an affront to workers across the country today.

UK businesses want a loyal sustainable workforce, where that workforce comes from is irrelevant. If we don’t have a supply of well-trained workers we have to look not only to the rest of the world but also to attract talent from across the UK. This will continue until we have enough people available locally with the right skills to fill roles. Rules are in place to ensure companies comply with minimum standards, such as the minimum wage, benefits, working time, health and safety and safe conditions of work. These arguments have filled the broadsheets this week and do not need rehearsing here, but as protagonists of sustainability, we must get serious about our human capital.

From my own perspective, working in the UK’s green sector is diverse and rewarding. First Mile is lucky enough to share skills and experience with people from many backgrounds and nations and although diverse we First Milers have these things in common:

  1. We want to do our bit to be green and help our customers be Planet Savers
  2. We agree with and are guided by First Mile’s values, including learning and having fun
  3. We are happy with the conditions in which we work and rewards for our labour

In other words, we try to get a fair deal between the business and the human capital employed. We have a loyal sustainable workforce because we are looking after the essence of what is required to ensure the company functions. It’s the same as our goals to be green; a sustainable system in which we can live on the planet without polluting or harming it.

Amber Rudd should focus less on creating a distinction between local and non-local and more on solutions for achieving a loyal and sustainable workforce. She should focus more on providing a training environment to address skills shortages. At First Mile, we are addressing the shortage of truck drivers by training and recruiting great people through our Driver Academy which is creating opportunities for all.

Please let’s not worry about where people come from, how they sound or what they look like. Instead let’s focus on what they contribute, what support is required to do their job better and how they are rewarded.