Along with demographic change and advances in technology, the transition to green skills is one of a number of mega trends set to transform the economy and labour market. These shifts are also interconnected. The need for “green skills” is therefore not just about new green jobs, but also greening existing roles, increasing economic growth and productivity, and creating opportunities for people of all backgrounds. As the UK moves towards net zero, the role of further education and apprenticeship programmes in equipping young people with the green skills employers require is crucial.
We have conducted research on behalf of WorldSkills UK, exploring how the skills system can help young people acquire the high-quality technical skills needed to support the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions. The research provides evidence on:
- Current and anticipated employer demand for green skills across sectors.
- The extent to which these skills are currently incorporated in technical education and apprenticeship programmes.
- Young people’s understanding of- and appetite for- skills, jobs and careers that would support the UK’s transition to net-zero.
The research demonstrates a disconnect between increasing employer demand for green skills and young people’s lack of knowledge of what they are. It also highlights the importance of ensuring qualifications and training deliver the skills needed to achieve the UK’s net-zero emissions target and allow young people to fulfil ambitions to pursue a green career.
1. Most employers surveyed currently require green skills or expect to in the future.
2. For employers that require green skills or expect to, they are needed in a wide range of business areas and at all career levels, but most have had difficulty in hiring suitable candidates.
3. Green skills gaps are having a negative impact on employers’ ability to meet their net zero targets and their ability to manage rising energy costs.
4. Most young people surveyed feel inspired to pursue a career that can help the UK to reach net-zero and are strongly motivated by a desire to combat climate change.
5. Young people, particularly young women, lack awareness on green jobs and careers available, the skills employers require, and the relevant education and training pathways.
6. Young people lack awareness and understanding of ‘green skills’ and ‘green jobs’, despite their strong commitment to sustainability.
7. Young people and employers agree that the skills for net- zero will be important for future careers, but employers are unsure if the education system is equipping young people with them.
8. Corporate sustainability and social responsibility strategies, demonstrating how a company is having a positive impact on the environment, are vital in attracting young people into employment.
As a result of the findings from this report, WorldSkills UK have committed to the following:
1. Empower and inspire young people from all backgrounds to build STEM skills, gain jobs, and pursue careers that will tackle climate change.
2. Launch a new competition programme in renewable energy.
3. Partner with the Institute for Motor Industry to enhance opportunities for young people to gain green skills in the automotive sector.
4. Embed green skills in wider skills competition programmes and support for educators.
5. Assist UK skills providers to deliver world-class standards in green skills development.
6. Work with DfE and IfATE in England and parallel bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to ensure qualifications and apprenticeships supply green skills that boost UK competitiveness for foreign direct investment.
Conclusions for the UK Government
1. Marketing and communications, such as the Get the Jump campaign, could capitalise on the enthusiasm of young people to pursue green careers by helping schools, colleges, and universities signpost to education and training pathways available.
2. The independent Green Jobs Delivery Group, IfATE’s Green Advisory Panel, and DfE’s Unit for Future Skills all have the opportunity to undertake data-driven action to ensure approved qualifications and apprenticeships support up to date skills and jobs businesses across sectors need to decarbonise.
3. DfE’s commitment to make qualifications and apprenticeships more flexible could remove barriers for people to acquire new green skills. This could be complemented through the roll-
out of Higher Technical Qualifications and the Lifelong Loan Entitlement.
4. Local Skills Improvement Plans offer the opportunity for employers and skills providers to identify and develop world- class skills that boost their region’s competitiveness for foreign direct investment in green jobs.
5. Through the Skills Value Chain, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult can continue to close the loop between the development of green technologies and the identification and delivery of higher technical skills businesses need to harness them.
1. Efforts to attract more women into STEM should point to the importance of STEM skills to net-zero and lever the enthusiasm of young women for green jobs and careers.
2. Highlighting the importance of technical skills to decarbonisation can attract young people to apprenticeships and help build prestige in technical education.
3. As our understanding of green skills grows, and action is taken to reflect employer demand for these skills in qualifications and apprenticeships, enrolment data could offer valuable insights on whether the skills system is producing the workforce needed for a net-zero economy
4. Smaller employers could benefit from additional support to understand which qualifications and courses provide green skills for their sector.
5. Larger employers could have a positive role in helping smaller firms in their supply chain to understand what transition to net- zero looks like, and the green skills required.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @ Skills for a net-zero economy: Insights from employers and young people – Learning and Work Institute