The government’s “green jobs” strategy will fall at the first hurdle without a clear action plan, according to a report from the Environmental Audit Committee.
The cross-party parliamentary committee said it was disappointed that “despite announcements committing millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, the government is yet to define what a ‘green job’ is, and how it will evaluate the perceived demand”.
The government has claimed that investment in its net zero strategy will support the creation of up to 440,00 jobs by 2030. Its plans to hit net zero by 2050 were released last week (19 October).
However, the EAC’s report found that its promises on climate change could be seen as a “tick-box exercise” without more clarity on what these jobs are, the skills needed and where they will be created.
The EAC points to the recent pledge of green homes grants, vouchers to help homeowners to make their property more eco-friendly, for example by installing heat pumps instead of carbon-intensive gas boilers.
Its report said the government “failed to engage with the sector to develop the skills required”, which instead resulted in contractors making staff redundant as consumers awaited confirmation of vouchers.
The EAC makes a number of recommendations on how the government can build a sustainable pipeline of skills to support these jobs in the long term.
Top of these recommendations is that the government sets out a definition of green jobs, measuring the number, type of location of these over the 2020s, so the impact of policies can be monitored and evaluated.
It also calls for the government to assign costings to each department’s actions within an overall green jobs delivery plan.
Further recommendations relating to jobs and skills include:
- Environmental sustainability should be embedded across all national curriculum and A-level courses, with a module on sustainability in apprenticeship and T Level courses
- The government must set out clear metrics for improving diversity in the sector: only 3.1% of environmental professionals identify as coming from an ethnic minority
- By the end of 2021, the government should set out a programme encouraging development of green skills across the construction trade in order to build capacity
- The government must set out a national careers strategy that aligns to its net zero and environmental goals , including a central role for careers advice to make people aware of opportunities in green sectors
- Employment schemes such as Kickstart and Restart must embed sustainability – currently only 1% of Kickstart placements are in green sectors.
Chairman of the committee, Conservative MP Philip Dunne, said: “From renewable energy clusters in the North East and Scotland, to engineering powerhouses in the Midlands and nature conservation in the South West, we are building an economy set for net zero.
“But the workforce of the future is being undermined by a lack of evidence-based government policies on how jobs will be filled in green sectors.
Encouraging announcements of investment in green sectors of the economy are very welcome but the government admits that claims about green jobs lack explanation and data on how the targets will be achieved.
“Our report today sets out how these green jobs roles can be filled. Monitoring the sectors and regions where the jobs are needed, and rebooting careers advice that demystifies green jobs, is critical if we are to meet our environmental goals.”
Last week, recruitment site Indeed shared its own research suggesting that environmental industry roles would need to be created at 25 times the current rate if ministers are to meet their proposed targets.