Sustainable Steps Wales - Green Careers

Planetary Boundaries

This programme is now closed to new applications.

Applications are being assessed.

This programme aims to help young people (aged between 16 and 30) in Wales into green careers. By green careers, we mean careers that reduce carbon emissions, restore nature and help us adapt to our changing climate.

Examples of green careers could be anything from an administrative assistant for an environmental consultant, to a cook at a zero waste café, or a trainee engineer for a renewable energy company.

We’re funding projects that help young people:

  • develop their confidence
  • teach them new skills – this could include social and technical skills
  • get work experience and placements which could lead to longer-term opportunities.

We want to fund projects that focus on supporting young people with disabilities and/or young people from ethnically minoritised communities. Our aim is to encourage diversity in green careers by giving a helping hand to these underrepresented groups.

To get funding, you must want to work in a partnership. We can help you connect with other interested organisations.

Suitable for
Funding size
£20,001 up to around £3,000,000. Projects should be around 5 years.
Total available
£10 million
Application deadline

This programme is now closed

How to apply

Sustainable Steps Wales - Green Careers closed to new applications on 30 April 2024.

We'll award the grants in two stages:

  • Stage one: Partnerships will receive a development grant. This will give them resources to work together and develop their ideas. We expect to announce the partnerships receiving a development grant in summer 2024.
  • Stage two: These partnerships will then have an opportunity to apply for another grant to deliver their projects. Up to £3 million in funding will be available. We expect to announce the successful applicants of stage two in spring 2025.

1. Find out more about this funding

You can watch the video briefing.

You can also download questions and answers about the programme [Word document 68.1KB].

2. Contact us if you have questions about your application

To contact us you can:

Expression of interest form

The deadline for submitting an expression of interest form was 30 April 2024.

You can see a full list of the questions asked in the expression of interest form.

If it's difficult or impossible for you to complete an application form

You can contact us if you have any communication support needs. We’re happy to talk about other ways for you to tell us about your idea.

What we’re looking for in your expression of interest form

On your expression of interest form, you must show that you have:

  • established a partnership that has strong connections in the community that you plan to work in
  • a partnership which has the experience to help young people in your community get into green careers
  • a project idea that strongly meets our programme outcomes. You can find more information about how to write your outcomes on our additional advice page.
  • strong evidence that this project complements existing and future services and is filling a gap
  • already engaged with young people from our target groups as well as their families, and other service providers.

You can ask for a development grant from £300 up to £25,000 in your expression of interest form

If you’re invited to the next stage, this grant will help you explore your ideas further with your partners.

After we receive your expression of interest form we’ll:

  • email you to let you know we’ve received it
  • review it and may be in touch to discuss your idea in more detail
  • do our security checks - you can find out more about the checks we do
  • aim to tell you if you’ve been put through to the next stage by Wednesday 31 July 2024.

If we invite you to stage two, we’ll ask you to give us more information

The second stage application is made up of:

  • an application form – this tells us about your organisation
  • a project plan – this tells us about your proposal and how you’ll manage and deliver it. We’ll provide additional advice if you’re invited to the next stage
  • a project budget – this tells us how much your project will cost and how much you want us to fund
  • a project environmental action plan – this tells us how your project will be environmentally sustainable. Find out more about making an environmental action plan on our website.
  • your organisation’s annual accounts (or a 12-month projection for new organisations)
  • a draft partnership agreement – you may have more than one agreement.

If you’re not a charity you may also need to send us:

  • your organisation’s governing document. You do not need to provide the governing document for your partners.

You must spend your development grant and send us your stage two application form by 5pm on Tuesday 14 January 2025.

If it's difficult or impossible for you to complete an application form

You can contact us if you have any communication support needs. We’re happy to talk about other ways for you to tell us about your idea.

We’ll email our decision about your application by Monday 31 March 2025

If you're unsuccessful, we'll tell you why.

Who can apply

You must work in a partnership

We’ll only fund projects where a partnership of organisations works together to plan and deliver a project.

Collectively, your partnership will have the right expertise and experience to prepare and support young people for green careers. This includes helping them to develop confidence and emotional skills, gain work experience and work placements.

Relevant organisations may include those that are:

  • user-led or specialise in supporting young people with disabilities or young people from ethnically minoritised communities
  • specialists in employment work placements
  • specialists in skills development and training. This could include formal qualifications and support with developing their confidence and emotional wellbeing
  • employers that offer green jobs
  • well-connected with the community with other services and employers
  • working in the green economy and have specialist knowledge
  • able to undertake research and evaluate your project
  • experienced in marketing, communications, policy making and influencing
  • provide specialist services which would complement or support your project such as mental health services, housing and probation.

Partner organisations are welcome from all sectors and can be organisations that work locally, regionally or across Wales.

The lead organisation, who submits the application on behalf of the partnership, must be a UK-based:

  • registered charity
  • voluntary or community organisation
  • charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
  • co-operative society (if it has a not-for-profit clause)
  • company limited by guarantee (if it has a not-for-profit clause)
  • community interest company (CIC)
  • community benefit society.

If we decide to fund your project, the lead organisation will ensure the project and its partners meet our terms and conditions of grant. The lead organisation will give us progress updates, liaise with us over any issues related to the project and receive payment on behalf of the partnership.

You must use a partnership agreement

We ask for partnership agreements from those that will help manage the project or use our grant to deliver the project.

You can use our partnership agreement template [PDF 224KB].

You must also tell us about other organisations who may be involved in other ways such as organisations that you can refer or accept referrals from.

You need at least three board or committee members who are aged 18 years or over and are not related

Related can mean:

  • related by marriage
  • in a civil partnership with each other
  • in a long-term relationship with each other
  • related through a long term partner
  • living together at the same address
  • related by blood.

All companies that apply must have at least three directors who are not related in any of these ways.  This applies to companies that are also registered as charities. 

Who cannot apply

We cannot accept applications when the lead applicant is:

  • an individual or sole trader ​
  • a profit-making group
  • applying on behalf of another organisation
  • an organisation not established in the UK.
The projects we fund

We can fund projects that will run for around five years. We can fund part of your project or all of your project. We welcome a variety of applications which may vary in the number of young people to support, geographical area and amount requested.

All projects must:

  • help young people with disabilities and young people from ethnically minoritised communities to get into green careers. This might include skills development, voluntary and paid work experience, and longer-term employment.
  • increase young people’s awareness of green careers
  • make sure employers are set up to support young people with disabilities and young people from ethnically minoritised communities
  • plan to share your learning and achievements to raise awareness and influence policy and practice.  We may ask for some data to be collected in a consistent way. We’ll provide guidance to support help you do this.

We call these our funding ‘outcomes’, or the changes we want the projects we fund to make. All projects must have the ambition to see some of the young people they support progress into paid employment (as well as helping to develop their skills and experience).

We want to fund projects that support specific groups of young people

Funded projects must:

  • work with young people with disabilities or young people from ethnically minoritised communities, or both. They should be involved in helping with the design, delivery and evaluation of the project
  • commit to gender equality and proactively find ways to encourage people identifying as women to participate. Your project should aim for around half of the people you support identifying as women
  • focus on benefitting people living in Wales
  • work across a region – for example, two or more local authority areas. We do not expect to fund projects that will work across the whole of Wales
  • be for young people aged between 16 and 30. Helping those who are younger than 16 can be part of your project but this should not be its focus.

What we mean by people with disabilities

We mean a person who has a physical, neurodevelopmental, cognitive, or mental health condition that substantially limits aspects of their daily life or mobility.

Your project must have the capacity to work with those with greater needs such as those with learning disabilities and autism.

What we mean by ethnically minoritised communities

We’re including Gypsy, Roma, travellers, people with refugee status and people seeking asylum. You can find out more about people seeking asylum and their permissions to work and volunteer on the GOV.UK website.

Your project should include young people furthest from the labour market

This means supporting young people who face multiple barriers to employment, such as:

  • low mental or physical health
  • low self-esteem and confidence
  • low educational attainment
  • substance misuse
  • homelessness
  • criminal records
  • experience of childhood trauma
  • those that have experienced local authority care.

This funding is not just to support young people who are not in education, employment or training. But we expect applicants to identify and work with those in greatest need of support. Young people can have got support from other services previously.

We understand that providing additional support will require more resources and will mean working with fewer young people.

We want to fund projects that complement existing and future services and activities

We know that other local, regional and national services exist for young people across Wales. Your project must show a strong understanding of how you complement what’s already available and fills a gap.

As part of this, we expect that you’ll build relationships to ease referrals to and from other services. Examples of other services include careers advice, other work placement services, education providers, other support services for young people and job centres.

We expect to fund three or four projects in total

We’ll be looking to support young people in both urban and rural communities. Rural and urban communities may differ in their approach. For example, rural communities may have more challenges around availability of jobs and travel.

What you must show to get funding

You’ll have to show us that:

  • your organisation and partners are well-connected and trusted by the communities you want to work with
  • you can show that you’ve worked with young people, employers, educators and other services to develop your ideas. You must also have thought about how you can support young people, whatever route they choose into a green job.

Young people from the groups you want to target have helped design your project

And will also be involved in its delivery and evaluation.

The support for young people is high-quality, bespoke and you’ll work at the pace of the young person

You must help young people to develop their confidence and you must protect their emotional wellbeing. This way, you’ll ensure that young people have the best possible experience and outcome. You’ll provide support at pre-employment, during and post-employment. You’ll also plan to work with others that are already supporting the young person. For example, their parents, carers and social workers. You’ll address any unique barriers to participation to those identifying as women.

Here's a YouTube video from Engage to Change which has an example of guiding young people.

You’ll meet national employment standards

Projects will meet Supported Employment National Occupation Standards (NOS). You’ll make sure that all young people will have access to a job coach or mentor to get the support they need. Those delivering support must be trained, or be willing to complete training, in Supported Employment Techniques within six months of employment. They will also need to work towards a Level 3 Certificate for Supported Employment Practitioners.

Your project will prepare young people for work

This might involve skills development and unpaid work experience. Each young person can do paid work placement for up to 12 months if that’s what works for them.

Work experience and work placements will be suited to the young person’s aspirations, and they may try more than one placement. The project will encourage employers to continue employing the young person after the placement has finished, wherever possible. Your project must monitor the young persons’ journey for at least 6 months post-placement.

You understand the current position and future of the economy in your region

For example, you’ll need to show that you know about current and future developments around skills and employment in the green economy. This includes the ability to build strong links with employers and you’ll help them to better understand the young person’s needs and how to adjust support them.

Your project will build understanding and awareness of future skills and green job possibilities

It will have a proactive engagement plan to help more young people to consider green careers. We also expect that you’ll offer accreditation for courses the young people do, to ensure the skills are acknowledged and understood by employers.

Your project will be delivered bilingually in English and Welsh

You’ll also need to make sure all your activities are available to your community in both languages. For further information read our guidance on managing your project bilingually or contact the Welsh Language Team by emailing  

You should make sure your proposed budget includes costs for delivering your project bilingually, such as for translation.  It may be that you also need to consider other ways to reach your target audience. 

Your project will have an active policy in place to keep people safe

As your project will work with young people, you’ll need to have a policy in place that explains how they’ll be safe, including risk assessments, training and anything else required. The NCVO website has child safeguarding advice and information services.

If you get funding you’ll need to follow our policy on safeguarding children and adults at risk.

You’ll limit the impact on the environment

We want to fund projects that will minimise carbon emissions and the impact on nature and maximise environmental benefits. Read our guidance to reducing your environmental footprint.

You’ll meet Subsidy Control rules

Our grants come from public funds and successful applications will be asked to comply with the UK's International Subsidy Control Commitments. You should seek independent legal advice if you need more guidance.

Examples of projects we’ve funded before

As well as other sources, Sustainable Steps Wales – Green Careers has learnt from other programmes we have funded before, these include:

What you can spend the money on

What we can fund to help you develop your idea (stage 1)

We’re offering a development grant from £300 up to £25,000. This will help partnerships develop their ideas further.

We’re funding well-considered, high-quality support for young people over several years. And we think applicants will need time to consider the most effective way to deliver that.

This funding might cover things like:

  • staff time
  • more engagement sessions with young people and others in the community
  • hosting partnership meetings.

We’ll pay you in advance, after you have accepted our terms and conditions.

What project costs we can fund (stage 2)

We can fund projects that will run for around 5 years. We can fund part of your project or all of your project. We welcome a variety of applications which may vary in the number of young people to support, geographical area and amount requested.

If your partnership is invited to apply to stage two we’ll ask you to tell us your project costs. These costs may include:

  • young people’s training or work placement costs – we encourage all organisations to pay the real living wage
  • expenses for young people to get to and from workplace or training and items of clothing which are not normally provided by the employer
  • training for staff and employers
  • paying for project staff such as job coach support
  • overhead costs
  • software and website infrastructure
  • marketing and communications
  • small items of equipment, such as computers
  • monitoring and evaluation costs
  • Welsh language translation
  • professional and legal fees
  • electric vehicles - check our electric vehicle guidance for more information.

Funding may be available for some costs through the Access to Work scheme

The Access to Work Scheme may be able to offer specific support for some young people’s work placements. In this case, we would expect the young person to apply to that scheme for funding first, with assistance from the employer or job coach. If their request is rejected or more in-depth support is required, we may consider funding it. Advice is available here on the UK Government Access to Work website.

We cannot fund:​ 

  • costs for supporting young people that are already participating in other employment programmes
  • alcohol​ 
  • profit-making  
  • recoverable VAT​ 
  • activities that replace government funding​. Before you apply, you should research what support is already available.
  • political or religious activities​ 
  • paying someone else to write your application.

Contact us

To get help or advice you can: