Green finance job postings soar in UK, sparking skills shortage worries

That is according to a new analysis from PwC UK, conducted in partnership with the Aldersgate Group and the Financial Services Skills Commission.

Analysts found that the proportion of financial sector job postings badged as ‘green’ currently stands at 2.2% – almost a tenfold increase on 2019-20’s proportion. This means that 16,700 green finance jobs are currently open, up from 4,900 three years ago.

Some 7,000 of these roles are based in London but demand for skilled workers is also growingrapidly in Scotland, where 2,200+ roles are open the analysis found.

PwC UK attributes the trend largely to the creation of new jobs in the finance sector as it works to support the UK’s 2050 net-zero target and to growing the global green economy. Popular role creations include ESG analysts, sustainable investment strategy developers and climate finance specialists.

As the demand for green talent and skills continues to grow, the supply of green talent both from new entrants and the existing workforce is failing to rise with it and a green skills gap is emerging, the report warns.

It states that graduates with sustainability skills would only be able to fill 900 of the vacancies this year, pointing to a lack of green knowledge and skills provision in traditional degree programmes for financial professionals.

As such, filling the bulk of the 16,700 vacancies will require a ‘greening’ of the skillset of existing workers.

PwC UK’s head of regions Carl Sizer said: “Collaboration between government, educational institutions and the financial sector is essential to meet net-zero objectives and promote sustainability in finance.

“For graduates and students green skills are no longer a niche specialisation, but core to jobs in financial services, not something traditionally associated with sustainability.  And for the existing workforce – effective and comprehensive green reskilling and upskilling takes time, so investment in resources and training should commence straight away.”

Strategic planning

The UK Government has not provided a comprehensive update to its skills strategy since legislating for net-zero by 2050 back in 2019. As such, businesses and educational establishments have largely been left to their own devices in pioneering new courses and programmes for the low-carbon economy of the future.

Since setting that top-line emissions commitment, a vision for the UK to be the world’s first net-zero financial centre has been outlined. It was first floated by then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the COP26 climate summit in winter 2021.

Industry bodies have long been calling for more clarity on delivering this vision. An updated Green Finance Strategy was published this March but lacked key elements including a finalised Green Finance Taxonomy and definition of Transition Finance. Both are now expected in 2024.

Related news: Sustainability reporting most sought-after skill in corporate finance departments, poll finds

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie