Young people do not understand enough about what ‘green skills’ and ‘green jobs’ actually are, despite wanting environmentally friendly roles, warns a report released today.
The Learning and Work Institute/WorldSkills UK study cautions that the UK risks missing its net zero targets and losing out on inward investment and high-wage jobs because young people lack sufficient advice and support on how to pursue a green career.
Almost three-quarters of young people (71%) say they want to combat climate change and 62% saying they are passionate about sustainability. However, they are unsure know how to turn that passion into a career, found researchers.
Green skills were defined in the report as being centred on reducing carbon emissions. Jobs that met the definition could be in construction, engineering, manufacturing, as well as management roles.
Meanwhile, employers are already encountering skills shortages, which they expect to worsen.
Three-fifths (59%) of employers said they need green skills now, or will in the future and of them two-thirds (67%) have struggled to recruit staff with the right skills. More than two-fifths (43%) said they were struggling to meet rising energy costs and 39% said the education system was failing to equip young people with the necessary skills.
Young women (83%) were more likely than young men (77%) to say that it was important to work for an organisation committed to tackling climate change although more women than men said they had never heard about green skills.
On the back of the report, apprenticeship body WorldSkills UK said it would develop careers advice to inspire more young people into green careers. It would also align its skills competitions training programmes for young people and professional development programmes for teachers to meet the needs of industry and help boost the attractiveness of the UK to foreign firms looking to invest in green jobs and skills.
WorldSkills UK chief executive Neil Bentley-Gockmann said: “Employers report a growing demand for green skills and young people want careers that will help the planet. We need to make it easier to be green by tapping into that latent potential and help steer young people towards careers in areas like clean tech and decarbonisation.
“Helping to meet UK ambitions for net zero is essential for the planet and it also holds huge opportunities for the economy. Boosting the supply of world-class green skills can help cement the UK’s position as a leading destination for foreign direct investment, spurring productivity and creating highly skilled well paid green jobs across our nations and regions.”
Stephen Evans, chief executive at Learning and Work Institute said: “What’s clear from this report is that many young people are highly motivated to contribute to this change but unsure how this should affect their career choices.
“Being clear about this can help industries in the vanguard of the drive to net zero to attract the very best talent from the next generation. This will require partnerships between the education system and employers, inspiring young people to help transform our country.”