A social enterprise - backed by The Herald's publisher Newsquest - is developing a "pipeline" of talent into the future of sustainability and net zero for business.

Powering Futures helps businesses to train and tease out skills in young people in a bid to ensure employability benefits for 16 to 24-year-olds and supporting firms to move to net zero.

As well as working for companies, the group carries out training sessions in schools that co-founder David Reid claims is on track to be the third most studied subject after English and maths.

Powering Futures is running projects in schools and has issued the young people with five Challenges - including a look at the future of news.

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Mr Reid said: "For the next generation, the words that we use around climate change and net zero do not land with 16 to 24 year olds.

"We wanted to ask them what media would you like to use to receive your news and how do we converse with you in a way that will resonate with your entire age group?

"That's not just the keen beans, the ones who are already on it, and not those furthest from employment, this is about reaching the mainstream 60%.

"We have asked them to answer the question of what would a platform look like in the future that The Herald could use to ensure they can communicate with you?"

Mr Reid, who co-founded Powering Futures with his business partner Jennifer Tempany after leaving a career with Jacobs, set up the social enterprise because "it looked like the opportunities for the future seemed to be diminishing and not expanding".

He added: "We thought, 'This is an opportunity of a generation to create a new economy and new opportunities so why not ask the next generation what they think because they are going to inherit this?'

"We created a programme for apprentices and graduates that would take three months and was a systematic approach to better skills and team building as well as an understanding of sustainability."

Young people entering the workforce in companies such as Scottish Water and Lothian Buses, which have joined the scheme, are set challenges to solve that they then present to a panel of judges.

The idea is to engage the next generation in jobs involving the move to net zero while helping businesses implement sustainable practices.

Thanks to one challenge, Mr Reid said, a firm involved cut its energy bill by a quarter.

After COP26 Powering Futures was approached to bring the project into schools and it is now SCQF level 6 accredited with 45 schools taking part this year and 90 signed up for next.

Schools involved are spread Scotland-wide with some in Glasgow, Edinburgh, North and South Lanarkshire, Aberdeen, the Scottish Borders, and in Tobermory and Gareloch.

Young people who take part are also asked to go into schools to talk to pupils about job opportunities in the sector and widen both access and ambition.

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Mr Reid added: "Post-covid the incidence of young people who struggle to be in the workplace and don't have the confidence to collaborate has increased.

"They don't know much about sustainability but once they take part in the challenges we find we're really making a difference in businesses.

"Once we get these young people cranked up and they go back into schools they can signpost what's out there to other young people.

"We may have thousands and thousands of young people who want to ease the transition to net zero and so this then becomes an absolutely essential part of how we help businesses today and tomorrow to access a pipeline of talent."

The four other challenges being set by Powering Futures in schools include reimagining the use of water; how football and rugby clubs get to net zero; the future of local transport; and using entrepreneurship to create new businesses.

David Ward, managing director of Newsquest Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: "The Herald and Newsquest Scotland have partnered with a number of climate-focused organisations over the last five years to help educate and challenge behavioural change within our audiences.

"The opportunity to collaborate with Powering Futures on such an important topic was one that appealed to me, and chimes with the values we set.

"If we can better understand how young people would prefer to consume news, the nature of the content, the mediums and frequency then we are far better placed to commission and curate quality, trusted journalism that young people can rely on.

"Furthermore, this demographic will play a huge part in shaping the towns and cities we live in, the food we consume, how we power our homes, transport and the infrastructure we require to support those changes."