Government's green jobs plan a 'missed opportunity' to develop skills, MPs say

Just 1 per cent of all Kickstart placements have been in green sectors, parliamentary committee finds

A group of MPs have criticised the government's green jobs plan for being a “missed opportunity” to close the UK’s skills gap, warning that without a proper action plan the scheme could fail.

As part of its post-Covid recovery plan, the government has pledged to invest in developing the green economy and plans to create 440,000 jobs in the sector by 2030.

However, a report by the Environmental Audit Committee has said neither the government’s Kickstart scheme or its Restart scheme – designed respectively to get young people and the long term unemployed back into work – are ‘particularly aligned’ with its environmental or green jobs goals.

The report said that while the creation of green jobs could play “a valuable role” in the post-coronavirus recovery, just 1 per cent of all Kickstart placements created (2,000 placements) were in green sectors.

It added that there were currently no provisions in the scheme to ensure that skills and experience developed by young people on Kickstart placements – particularly those in high carbon industries – would not be redundant in a few years time.

“It appears a valuable opportunity to boost green skills, experience and employment as part of a green recovery has been missed,” the report said.

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Philip Dunne, Conservative MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, said the workforce was being “undermined by a lack of evidence-based government policies” on how jobs in green sectors would be filled.

“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,” he added.

The committee called for the government to set out a definition of ‘green jobs’ and outline how it would measure the number, type and location of the jobs created.

It also called for the government to create a programme to encourage the development of skills to support green jobs in the building and construction trade, criticising the government’s Green Homes Grant voucher scheme – which provided money for individuals to retrofit green upgrades on their homes – for failing to stimulate jobs in the sector.

Responding to the report, a spokesperson from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government had created and supported 56,000 jobs in green industries over the last year,

“To build on this success, we are delivering various initiatives to ensure people have the right skills to gain employment in Britain’s new low carbon industries,” they said.

The spokesperson added that the government's Net Zero Strategy, published earlier this month, included a range of measures to help workers retrain or upskill in order to participate in the green economy, and that a definition of green jobs was included in its Green Jobs Taskforce report.