UK will miss net zero target without better green career advice, think tank says

New report finds young people want jobs in clean tech and decarbonisation, but many are unsure which skills they need

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The UK is at risk of missing its green targets without better training and career advice, a charity has warned.

A report from the Learning & Work Institute and WorldSkills UK found that, while young people want to build careers that can help combat climate change and other environmental issues, there is a general lack of knowledge and understanding about what skills businesses in the green sector need.

Of the 1,162 young people aged 16-24 polled, the majority (62 per cent) said they were passionate about sustainability, and four out of five (80 per cent) said it was important to them to work for an organisation committed to tackling climate change.

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However, the majority (63 per cent) said that they had never heard of green skills and did not know what they were. Similarly, 55 per cent said they did not know what green skills employers in the current labour market needed.

Green skills range from technical skills needed in construction, engineering and manufacturing, to more general skills including change management, leadership and communications.

The same report also polled 1,001 employers, and found that of those needing green skills, two-thirds (67 per cent) were struggling to recruit talent.

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Just over a quarter (26 per cent) of firms reported currently needing green skills, while a third (33 per cent) said they expected to need them in the near future.

Some employers were also worried that the education system, including vocational courses and apprenticeships, were failing to equip young people with the necessary skills to reduce carbon emissions: nearly two in five (39 per cent) did not believe the education system was providing young people with the necessary skills.

The report cautioned this disconnect between available skills and the needs of employers suggested that, without more training and guidance to help young people pursue a green career, the UK was at risk of missing its net-zero targets.

Neil Bentley-Gockmann, CEO of WorldSkills UK, said: “We need to make it easier to be green by steering young people towards careers in areas like clean tech and decarbonisation.

“Boosting the supply of world-class green skills can help cement the UK’s position as a leading destination for foreign investment. This will spur productivity, creating highly skilled, well-paid, green jobs across our nations,” he added.