Report: Tax relief for businesses can upskill workers for green transition

Every major sector in the UK will need to "close a significant skills gap" in order to reach net-zero emissions, according to a new Green Alliance report that states that major policy interventions are needed to upskill the current workforce by providing incentives and tax reliefs for businesses.

Report: Tax relief for businesses can upskill workers for green transition

A new report by think tank Green Alliance was published this morning (12 January), calling for a new green skills programme that would help with efforts to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

The report notes that 80% of the predicted workforce in 2030 are currently working, meaning that a major upskilling programme will be required to retrain people to work efficiently in low-carbon jobs and markets.

The Green Alliance’s senior policy adviser Helena Bennett said: “There’s no doubt that net-zero will bring huge job opportunities for the UK. But if the prime minister wants a ‘high wage, high skill’ economy, then we need to build a workforce for the green jobs of the future.

“Supporting businesses, institutions and individuals will help to develop the skills we need for thriving green industries. But if we don’t have a proper programme the UK risks being outpaced by other countries.”

The report states that current and impending legislation on skills, including involvement from the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB), “must give due regard to environmental goals, while environmental legislation must do the same for skills”.

Other recommendations include the UK Government setting up a “green skills super deduction” tax relief for businesses to offer training for staff for green jobs. This would mirror the super deduction policy for machinery announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the 2021 spring budget. Loans and grants should also be provided for businesses to help retrain and train staff to embed green skills into in-work education.

Skills gap

The UK’s Green Jobs Taskforce has claimed that every single role in the UK could become a “green job” in the future – but only if the Government clarifies the path to net-zero by 2050, including new measures to invest in low-carbon technologies and to build a robust skills pipeline.

New jobs created to help drive the UK’s transition to net-zero could pay 18% more than the national average salary – and 30% more than the average salary offered by companies in high-emitting sectors. That is according to a report from thinktank Onward, entitled ‘Qualifying for the Race to Net-Zero’.

The report outlines how 3.2 million workers will need to “boost their skills” if the UK is to meet its 2050 net-zero target. This figure covers upskilling and retraining. Among the sectors most affected, the report states, are construction and transportation, where 30% and 26% of workers respectively will need upskilling.

The UK’s current overarching green jobs target is growing low-carbon and nature sectors to cover two million full-time-equivalent roles by 2030. But it is not on track to meet that aim.

Green recovery 

Additionally, the Office For National Statistics (ONS) published research last year finding that more than 800,000 job losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the UK could be replaced by new green jobs, provided government and private investment is mobilised correctly.

This week WEF’s ‘Global Risks Report’ assessed the biggest risks on an international scale, in terms of likelihood and the severity of their likely impacts. The global survey of risk analysts and other experts found that only one in ten believe the global recovery from Covid-19 will accelerate in the short-term and mid-term. A particular concern is expressed about a disorderly and unequal climate transition and interlinked disorderly and unequal financial and public health approach to the pandemic.

Matt Mace

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