The first meeting of the UK’s Green Jobs Delivery Group took place yesterday (11 May), co-chaired by energy minister Greg Hands and E.ON CEO Michael Lewis.
The group, comprised of representatives from business, industry, trade unions and academia, has been tasked with supporting the delivery of up to 480,000 skilled green jobs by 2030, a target laid down in the British energy strategy announced last month and Net Zero Strategy in October 2021.
The government claims that it will unlock £100bn of private investment by 2030, by which point 95% of electricity could be low carbon. This points to a need for far more skilled workers to build and maintain the likes of electric vehicles, heat pumps, hydrogen boilers, wind turbines and solar panels, as well as insulate British homes and buildings.
So far, ministers say 68,000 green jobs have been created or are “in the pipeline” in the UK economy. These are in electric vehicle manufacturing in Sunderland, hydrogen facilities in Teesside, and offshore wind in Northumberland, Yorkshire and Humber.
The Delivery Group will look at ways of ensuring all sectors of the economy and parts of the country can benefit from the green transition.
Hands, said: “We will need tens of thousands of skilled workers for our clean transition and to boost energy security; and well-paid green jobs will help with the cost of living. Spreading opportunity by levelling up all parts of the country.
“Our new Delivery Group will help us ensure employers have the know-how and employees the skills to drive our transition to becoming the world’s leading green economy.”
Co-chair of the Delivery Group and CEO of E.ON UK, Michael Lewis, said collaboration between business and government was vital if targets were to be achieved: “The UK needs a future pipeline of talent to power it towards net zero and this Delivery Group will ensure industry and government work together, so we have the diverse, skilled and resilient workforce needed for the future.”
The government’s recent British Energy Security Strategy set out how the UK would accelerate the transition to renewables, supporting an extra 40,000 green jobs including an expansion of nuclear power in the form of “small modular reactors”, a fivefold increase in offshore wind by 2030 and solar by 2035 with a double of low carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030.
Among existing initiatives and skills programmes to support low carbon industries across the country ministers are keen to flag up are:
- efforts to work with employers to boost green apprenticeship opportunities
- free adult skills training for those without qualifications as well as any adult in England who is earning under the national living wage annually (£18,525) or unemployed, regardless of their prior qualification level
- green skills bootcamps – providing free, flexible training courses for adults with a fast-track interview with local employers in companies retrofitting homes, installing solar power or developing greener transport
An example of job opportunities created by the energy strategy is provided under plans for a Sizewell C nuclear plant. This would see up to 1,500 apprenticeships becoming available if the reactor gets the go-ahead.
Sarah Williamson, civils programme director at Sizewell C, said: “Sizewell C will deliver 1,500 apprenticeships and these early opportunities are a fantastic route into the project for students to learn their craft at Hinkley Point C and transfer back to Sizewell C as qualified welders and engineers.
“The opportunities are real, they are being delivered now and I would encourage anyone serious in pursuing a rewarding career in civils to consider the growing nuclear sector.”