Green job postings trebled in the UK this year, but North East risks being left behind

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The consultancy giant has today (12 December) published the second edition of its Green Jobs Barometer. This resource tracks advertisements for new roles to assess how many support the UK’s transition to a clean energy system and to conserving and restoring the natural environment. Included in the definition of green jobs are those in renewable energy, electric vehicles, low-carbon hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency and nature-based solutions, among other fields.

The overarching finding is that almost three times as many of these roles were advertised in the UK in the 12 months leading up to November 2022, compared with the year prior. PwC has recorded a jump from around 124,600 to around 336,800 individual green job adverts. This rate of growth is around quadruple that for all job postings.

Every UK region saw the number of new green jobs in demand at least doubling. Scotland retained its position as the UK region with the highest portion of green jobs, with adverts accounting for 3.3% of all roles, compared with 2.2% as the UK average. Strong growth was also recorded in the South West and North West, which exceeded this UK average.

London and the South East have also seen a boon for green jobs, mainly in professional, scientific and technical roles. In London, one in five new roles created over the past 12 months is classed as green by PwC. While this is good news for those living here and seeking a green career, PwC is warning that the trend “is creating an ever-growing gap in new green trades jobs, which are more prevalent in other parts of the country, and which are equally vital to the net zero transition.”

The risk is most significant for the North East. Around 7,600 green jobs were advertised here during the 21-month period assessed, compared to some 110,000 in London and the South East.

The report continues: “These disparities could be even more profound given the wider economic benefits of the creation of green jobs. Our analysis shows that every green job supports a further 1.2 jobs. This multiplier effect is most significant in London, where 1.7 jobs are supported by each green job.”

PwC’s head of regions Carl Sizer added: “While Wales and Scotland are among the top performers, it’s striking that one in five new green roles are based in the Capital. If growth continues on this trajectory, the compounding effect means the green economy will increase London’s dominance over other cities and regions. If we want to meet our net-zero ambitions while driving growth, then the green economy needs to be nationwide.”

Skills shortages: The biggest challenge

The report goes on to acknowledge that the green jobs market is now “reaching a crunch point”, with not enough skilled workers to meet demand in almost all sectors and at businesses of all sizes.

“Without government intervention, there will be an insufficient supply of the skills needed tomeet the UK’s impending decarbonisation targets,” the report warns. The UK has not updated its skills plan in full since legislating for net-zero by 2050 back in 2019. PwC wants to see this happen, and also wants to see clearer signalling on the future of key green technologies.

The skills gap is perhaps the smallest in the energy sector, PwC concludes, with most fossil fuel majors equipping staff with technical skills that can be transferred to other sectors. PwC estimates that 90% of workers in the sector have transferable skills and that half of oil and gas jobs can be transferred into new areas such as hydrogen.

Nonetheless, energy is a sector with an ageing workforce, the report states, highlighting the importance of good green skills provisions for the next generation of young workers. Without this, there will be a major green skills gap and the sector’s ability to transition would be undermined. The report concludes that there will be minimal net job losses in energy until after 2030 amid the energy transition.

On the other end of the scale, PwC highlights significant skills gaps in construction and in trades. The report states that the UK will need at least 10,000 new tradespeople each year, and as many as 66,000, this decade. This will help to meet the demand for retrofitting of things like insulation and glazing, as well as the installation of low-carbon heating systems and electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

Earlier this month, the UK Government unveiled the winners of a £9.2m training scheme to upskill workers in the energy, heating and buildings sectors to help with the installations of clean heating and energy efficiency solutions for homes. While this was welcomed, there is still the need for a longer-term, clearer strategy.

As well as green trades job, the report warns of skills shortages on the horizon for scientific and technical roles, too.

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