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Meeting the rise in green job growth in the UK

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Government reports confirm that the UK delivered over 270,000 green jobs in 2022, representing a 29% increase on 2015 levels. Within the same period, the number of full-time positions within the oil and gas industry declined by 28%. This figure equates to a loss of nearly 8,500 jobs in fossil fuels compared to the generation of over 40,000 positions in low-carbon and renewable energy industries. 

The data was presented last month via the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS has recorded an 8% increase in FTE positions within the low-carbon and renewable energy markets since 2022. They also reported a 28% rise in turnover, year-on-year, within the same time frame. The most significant increase reported in turnover was registered within the low-carbon electricity generation sector, standing at 53%.

The largest annual growth in staff numbers was linked to the service-based progression, standing at over 90%. Environmental campaigners have emphasised that the government needs to face the realities, show full support for the renewable energy industry, and ensure the development of progressive career opportunities, with positive conditions for UK employees. This approach would strengthen energy security and reduce emissions. Earlier this month, a CBI economics study showed that the UK’s low-carbon industries increased by 9% in 2023, compared with the national economic growth of less than 1% for the entire economy. 

Organisations, including CBI, have been calling for an enhanced industrial strategy, with the net-zero transition at its core, to help strengthen the economic growth opportunity available. The UK Government hasn’t updated its Industrial Strategy or Skills Strategy in detail since 2017 – two years before it committed to the UK’s long-term 2050 climate target.

A recurring theme today is the need to create a workforce that meets our current requirements, and the future demands as the energy transition changes how we move, work and live. Low-carbon technologies, like solar and electric vehicles, are driving the changes towards a low-carbon future. Studies suggest that nearly 80% of buildings in the 2050 net zero economy already exist – so this is a huge requirement for technical, engineering and project-based talent as we continue to scale the decarbonisation of infrastructure. Furthermore, emerging markets, like hydrogen and carbon storage, have significant potential for creating new jobs in the coming years.

At the same time, there is an existing shortage of skilled professionals in technical and engineering positions, which has negative implications. A shortage of heat pump installers has been highlighted as the issue for a slow uptake of the Government’s boiler upgrade plans.

There is a concern that the lack of skills will hinder efforts to decarbonise the economy and slow progress towards national net-zero targets. The next generation will focus much of their careers in an economy moving to net zero, providing them with the necessary skills is critical to getting the transition right.

While the next generation is more climate-aware, recent reports suggest general awareness and interest in green jobs must increase. What can be done to boost awareness and enthusiasm for sustainability to drive an increase in green skills?

Collaboration between the government and industry is critical, which needs to support the development of career progress and apprenticeship pathways. Taking a proactive approach to hiring businesses when investing in the next wave of skilled professionals is also vital. 

Prioritising diversity is also critical to finding the best talent for delivering green jobs. Only 19% of engineering and technology students are women. Supporting initiatives which provide opportunities for STEM roles and empowering young women to explore these types of career pathways are critical.

As a green economy influences how we work and live, it’s vital to invest in upskilling the current workforce and the future generation. Green skills are vital to reach net zero, but we must take action now to overcome the challenges that could impact progress, including a potential lack of specific talent and a gap in STEM education.

All industries must work together in delivering the necessary talent, capable of pushing the UK towards a green and sustainable future. 

For the latest Green Jobs, Environmental Jobs, Net Zero Jobs, Low Carbon Jobs, Renewable Energy Jobs  in the United Kingdom please visit – GreenJobs

For the latest Green Jobs, Environmental Jobs, Net Zero Jobs , Low Carbon Jobs, Renewable Energy Jobs in Ireland please visit – GreenJobs Ireland  

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