The UK government must provide “strong, targeted support” for green jobs if the country is to reap the full benefits of the net-zero transition, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) has said today.
In a new briefing, the government’s climate advisers warn that a “hands-off approach” from ministers will not work, and call for active reskilling and upskilling of the workforce in key areas.
They estimate that up to 725,000 net new jobs can be created in low-carbon sectors such as buildings retrofit, renewable energy generation and electric vehicles, with significant employment opportunities in economically deprived areas.
However, options for developing the net-zero workforce are “not being considered systematically across government”, according to the briefing.
It calls for clear direction and support in the government’s forthcoming ‘Net Zero and Nature Workforce Action Plan’, adding that this clarity will give businesses and workers time to respond.
IEMA welcomed today’s briefing, and has called for this year’s COP28 cover text to include a commitment to delivering green skills and training.
CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, said: “The CCC is right to push green jobs, and the skills needed to deliver them, up the agenda. The UK has a proud record of international climate leadership with our Climate Change Act 2008 and presidency of COP26.
"IEMA is calling on delegates at COP28 in the UAE to add a commitment to green skills and training to the final cover text of the negotiations, in order to give the world the best chance of action at the pace and scale needed to avoid climate breakdown."
The CCC said that the majority of UK workers will see no major impacts from the green transition, and that the largest changes will be in sectors with a core role in the delivery of net zero – around a fifth of the total workforce.
Two-thirds of these core workers are in sectors that can grow over the transition, especially those working in buildings construction and retrofit, and electric battery manufacturing.
The first major UK sites for decarbonised industry are expected to be in the Humber and South Wales, exploiting hydrogen and carbon capture. Other clusters could be located in Grangemouth in Scotland, Teesside, Merseyside and Southampton.
These areas already employ manufacturing workers – the North of England, the East Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber represent 16%, 9%, and 21% of energy-intensive manufacturing jobs, respectively.
The briefing also highlights how the US Inflation Reduction Act, and the EU’s proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan, have increased the risk to competitiveness of the UK in some key areas of the net-zero transition.
It states that the country risks missing out on opportunities by not supporting skills that attract investment to the UK, and says that it must defend its competitive advantage in net-zero sectors like hydrogen and carbon capture in the face of these new international pressures.
CCC Chairman, Lord Deben, said: “The UK has committed to net zero. The only question is whether the government intends to get there in a way that benefits workers or leaves them behind.
“This is a unique moment to tailor our approach to skills and jobs, in the certainty of achieving the legal goal. A net-zero workforce means secure employment for the future. This is an opportunity for the government to bring real meaning to ‘levelling up’.”
IEMA has recently launched its Green Careers Hub, where anyone – from any sector or background – can come to understand how they can play a role in greening the economy.
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