One in four UK workers regard part of their job as ‘green’

10th October 2023


Over a quarter of working adults in the UK believe that part of their job is ‘green’, while one in 20 think that all or most of their role relates to green activities.

That is according to new data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which defines a green job as “employment in an activity that contributes to protecting or restoring the environment, including those that mitigate or adapt to climate change".

Males were more likely to describe part of their job as green when asked in May this year, with 30% doing so, compared with 24% of females. Workers in Scotland and Wales were more likely to regard their job as green than those in England.

For 2020, the ONS estimates that were around 526,000 full-time workers in green jobs, which was 3.8% higher than 507,000 in 2015, but 3.5% lower than the peak of 545,000 in 2018.

Producing energy efficient goods and waste management were the two biggest activities for workers with green jobs, with around 113,000 and 97,000 full-time employees involved in these activities, respectively.

This comes after a report from IEMA and Deloitte – which was recently shortlisted for an MCA award – revealed that 75% of senior sustainability professionals believe all jobs will require green or sustainability skills by 2050.

Speaking at the report’s launch, IEMA CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE, said: “It is absolutely crucial that we address the climate crisis now. We believe that every job must be greener to tackle our greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a net-zero status by 2050.

“We really must help organisations assess the readiness of their staff to participate in the green economy, and identify the practical steps that can be taken to increase preparedness.”

The ONS data is based on its environmental goods and services sector (EGSS) estimates, its low carbon and renewable energy economy (LCREE) survey, and business register employment survey.

Growth in green jobs between 2015 and 2020 was seen across several sectors, in particular:

• Employment in renewable energy increased by around 10,000

• The water quantity sector saw an increase of around 8,000

• Employment in environmental charities grew by around 6,000

• The low-emission vehicles sector saw employment increase by around 6,000.

IEMA has recently launched its Green Careers Hub, providing businesses and individuals with all the information they need on green skills and potential career pathways.

The Institute has also spearheaded a campaign to include a commitment to green skills and training on the final cover text of the COP28 negotiations in the UAE later this year.

Mukherjee said: “This would give a clear signal to the planet’s businesses and industrial sectors that policymakers recognise that training and skills delivered at pace, will underpin the green revolution that results in the sustainable movement of goods and services globally.

“This shift simply will not happen quickly enough unless we equip the global workforce with the skills and training necessary for it to happen. A clear declaration of intent at COP28 would be a great way to start.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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