Lack of know-how stopping young people plugging green skills gaps


24 06 2022


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Despite wanting jobs to combat climate change – and increasing employer demand for green skills – young people do not understand enough about what ‘green skills’ and ‘green jobs’ actually are, according to our new research with WorldSkills UK.

Our new report cautions that the UK risks missing its net zero targets and losing out on inward investment and high-wage jobs because young people’s appetite for jobs combatting climate change is being thwarted by a lack of advice and support on how to pursue a green career.

The report suggests young people fully understand the dangers the planet faces, with 71% saying they want to combat climate change and 62% saying they are passionate about sustainability. However, they are unsure know how to turn that passion into a career.

Meanwhile, employers are clear that they already have issues due to a green skill shortage. They expect things to get worse and are unconvinced the education system can solve the problem.

Three-fifths (59%) of employers said they need green skills now, or will in the future and of them two-thirds (67%) have struggled to recruit staff with the right skills. More than two-fifths (43%) said they were struggling to meet rising energy costs and 39% said the education system was failing to equip young people with the necessary skills.

Other key findings in the report, by Learning and Work Institute for WorldSkills UK, include:

  • 71% of employers said it is their responsibility to help tackle climate change
  • 79% of young people said it is important to work for an organisation committed to tackling climate change
  • 87% of young people said they did not know what green skills were
  • Young women (83%) were more likely than young men (77%) to say that it was important to work for an organisation committed to tackling climate change
  • However, there is a significant gender gap in young people’s knowledge and understanding of green skills, with young women (72%) being more likely to say that they have never heard of green skills, compared to young men (53%).

Green skills are defined as the skills needed to promote a green economy recovery focused on reducing carbon emissions. This can range from technical green skills such as those relating to construction, engineering or manufacturing, to more general green skills such as project management, change management, leadership and communication skills.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute said:
Tackling climate change will create new jobs and change the skills needed in many roles. What’s clear from this report is that many young people are highly motivated to contribute to this change but unsure how this should affect their career choices. Being clear about this can help industries in the vanguard of the drive to net zero to attract the very best talent from the next generation. This will require partnerships between the education system and employers, inspiring young people to help transform our country.”
WorldSkills UK CEO Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE said:
Employers report a growing demand for green skills and young people want careers that will help the planet. We need to make it easier to be green by tapping into that latent potential and help steer young people towards careers in areas like clean tech and decarbonisation. Our recent careers event on green jobs brought together leading employers to inspire young people and better explain what is needed to pursue a green career. “Helping to meet UK ambitions for net zero is essential for the planet and it also holds huge opportunities for the economy. Boosting the supply of world-class green skills can help cement the UK’s position as a leading destination for foreign direct investment, spurring productivity and creating highly skilled well paid green jobs across our nations and regions.

Skills for a net-zero economy: Insights from employers and young people

Our new research explore how the skills system can help young people acquire the high-quality technical skills needed to support the UK’s transition to net zero carbon emissions.
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