CBI: Embracing green economy could create 240,000 jobs

Businesses can play a key role in offering jobs in low-carbon industries such as electric car production
Peter_Fleming / Shutterstock.com

Businesses have the opportunity to create 240,000 ‘green jobs’ if they move early to support a low-carbon economy, according to the CBI.

The lobby group has published a report today (24 May) urging employers to “seize the moment” by reskilling workers and solidifying relationships between employer and employee.

It calls for skills provision to be more demand-led and asks for money “trapped” in the apprenticeship levy to be freed so that all businesses can invest in lifelong learning for any employees.

The CBI estimates that closing future skills gaps by recruiting more diverse talent could provide a £150bn uplift to the economy by 2030.

It believes that 240,000 jobs could be created in low-carbon sectors such as electric vehicle manufacture, and by basing many roles outside London and the South East, this will boost regional economies and support the government’s “levelling up” agenda.

Increasing access to better educational and employment opportunities could add an additional £139bn to the UK economy by 2030, it predicted, while workers who reskilled could see between 8% and 10% increase in “real wages”.

Tony Danker, CBI director general, said businesses needed to work with trade unions, civil society and the government to cut carbon emissions and unlock the UK’s growth potential.

The government’s Build Back Better plan has already pledged investment in skills, including investment in improving apprenticeships and lifelong learning.

But Danker said that the opportunities open to the UK could not be achieved by the government alone, claiming that businesses could help “turn Build Back Better from a shared national aspiration into a shared national success”.

He added: “Only businesses can create jobs and opportunities for people. There is a unity of purpose in my view across politics, business, trade unions and civil society. We may disagree on detail but not on the need to align around this vision and these principles.”

Companies would build stronger bonds with employees, having solidified relationships with workers during the pandemic, the CBI report claimed. This would lead to more meaningful work and opportunities to progress, as well as better support for physical and mental wellbeing.

“Work is a place where people get in and on in life … I say to employers everywhere – we did the right things in the crisis. Bottle that. Let it be one of the positive legacies of the past year,” said Danker.

The CBI report highlighted that the UK has one of the highest skills mismatches of any G7 countries, with many employers facing skills shortages.

Reskilling nine in 10 workers and moving around 3 million workers to a new occupation by 2030 would help reduce this mismatch, it claimed. Employers needed to strengthen the representation of diverse talent to tackle the unequal impact of the pandemic on some groups and the potential effects of automation in the future, it added.

The apprenticeship levy must become more focused on lifelong learning, challenging “each firm to spend every penny investing in the skills of their workforce” rather than cross-subsidising other training or partner businesses, the report urged.

Simon Sear, CEO of growth and innovation consultancy Studio 44, said companies would need to adopt a three-dimensional approach. “They need to comply with incoming regulation for things like building and supply chain efficiency, adapt their current products and services, like car makers are doing with electric vehicles, and finally, they need to innovate and create new propositions, such as developing services like those that optimise the consumption of electricity in the home or business using AI and connected devices,” he explained.

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