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More education and awareness needed to spark interest in green careers

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A recent study by the Prince’s Trust and Public First has warned that the level of interest from the younger generation in green jobs is worryingly low, with only 27% in their 20s aware of the term. 

A report named Generation Green Jobs discovered that only a proportion of young people recognised the meaning of the term green jobs. The survey included discussions with over 2,000 people in their teens and early 20s. The study found that even after the term, green jobs was explained to respondents, only 46% were familiar with the existing jobs available within the green industry. 

The study found that approximately half of respondents failed to receive the necessary information on green industry jobs during their education, and the percentage was significantly higher for young people not in education, employment or training and for young women. More critically, the study showed that individuals taught about green jobs during education were more interested in pursuing a career in this industry. 

The report discovered that interest was the lowest for the jobs roles most in need of talent. The most popular options highlighted by the younger generation were conservation-based positions. The least popular positions were in sectors that require the highest demand, such as heat pump installers and retrofit coordinators.

Tackling the Green Skills Gap

Aside from low levels of awareness in the green industry, many respondents consider green jobs for those capable of pursuing an academic path, limiting how many people feel they can access them. The study indicated that only 5% of young people consider someone in green jobs not attending a university, despite many green industry roles requiring vocational training.

When discussing the barriers to pursuing a career in the green industry, young people believed they lacked the necessary skills, lacked the industry knowledge or considered the skills required too specialised. Despite nearly half of young people stating that climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today, only 18% said the environmental sustainability of their employer would be a determining factor in deciding between jobs. 

Highlighting the opportunities 

Young people identified that the opportunity for career progression, job security and flexibility would increase their interest in working in the green economy. These were qualities that most failed to associate with green jobs. Lower pay was considered one of the possible disadvantages of green jobs despite the earning potential and progression opportunities.

Alongside the survey, research consultancy Public First launched a series of focus groups with young people in areas expected to see a rise in new green jobs, namely the West Midlands, Teesside, and Fife. The outcomes of the focus group discovered that the scepticism concerning the benefits of green industry jobs had emerged from a lack of understanding surrounding these roles, highlighting that the way they’re presented to young people doesn’t resonate enough with their interests and values.

Lindsey Wright, head of future sectors at the Prince’s Trust, explains that the report provides a clear warning on how much is needed to educate young people about green jobs and provide a clear pathway into training and employment. 

Wright emphasises that they intend to strengthen their partnerships with existing and new partners to create this vision. The main challenge is ensuring young people recognise they can benefit from these opportunities and do not consider themselves unsuitable for a career in the green industry.

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