Study highlights the need to focus on green education

4 minutes read

New research has emphasised the importance of prioritising green education this year for the younger generation. According to the Prince’s Trust and Public First, general interest in green jobs is considerably low among young people, with only 3 in 10 British people in their early 20s aware of the terminology surrounding green jobs and green careers.

A report by the two organisations discovered that only 27% of younger people recognised the term ‘green jobs’ and could accurately describe what this meant. The figure was based on a survey of approximately 2000 people in their late teens and early 20s.

Within the study, 46% of respondents understood what jobs would exist in a green economy. A similar figure was not aware of green industry jobs during their educations, and this was significantly higher for younger people not in education, employment or training (64%). The study emphasised those educated about the opportunities in the green industry were significantly more interested in pursuing these roles.

Aside from low awareness, green industry jobs are often considered opportunities for those who pursue an academic route, which impacts how many people believe they can access them. The study suggested that only 5% of young people imagined green industry professionals as needing a university-level education, despite many green industry roles requiring vocational training.

When discussing the barriers to working in the green industry, many young people felt they lacked the necessary skills or didn’t know enough about the opportunities available to them. Despite many people recognising the impacts of the climate challenge, only 18% of young people in the report stated that environmental sustainability measures in an employer would be a determining factor in pursuing a new job with an organisation.

Young people highlighted that opportunities for progression, job security and flexibility would strengthen their interest in pursuing a green role, but many believed these weren’t necessarily prominent in the green market. The study suggested certain scepticism and misunderstandings about the benefits and potential pay associated with green industry opportunities. While studies suggest a higher than average earning potential and the chance to progress, low pay was considered by respondents as a disadvantage of green jobs. Research consultancy Public First launched a series of online studies for young people in selected regions expected to experience a significant rise in green jobs – the West Midlands, Teesside, and Fife, Scotland. The study concluded that there was a level of scepticism concerning the benefits of green jobs, which had developed due to a general lack of understanding about these roles, suggesting the importance of education and communication to strengthen the connection between young people and the green industry.

Lindsey Wright, head of future sectors at The Prince’s Trust, explains that the recent report provides a stark warning about the action needed to educate young people about green job opportunities and provide clear pathways into training and employment.

Wright emphasises that they will strengthen their partnerships with current and new organisations to fulfil this vision. Wright explains that a key priority is education, as many young people who could benefit from green opportunities often feel they are unsuitable.

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