Students not drawn to jobs crucial to UK achieving net zero, survey finds

30th November 2022

Sectors that are vital for decarbonising the UK’s economy are struggling to appeal to students, a survey of 4,000 16-23-year-olds has found.

The research by consultancy firm WSP shows that construction, utilities and transport all rank poorly among sectors which appeal to the future workforce.

Specifically, 37% of respondents said they would not consider a career in construction, despite the sector playing a crucial role in decarbonising infrastructure and buildings, and creating new homes.

Furthermore, 34% would not pursue a career in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector, while 22% would not consider a career in either utilities or transport.

This is despite the UK’s net zero target requiring an estimated 64,000 solar PV jobs by 2035 alone, as well as 90,000 jobs in offshore wind power and 44,000 in hydrogen by 2030.

The findings were presented yesterday morning at an event hosted by WSP in the House of Commons, which was attended by IEMA's deputy CEO, Martin Baxter.

He said: “This important research highlights the significant opportunity to support students to translate their concerns about climate change into a ‘green career’ where they can be part of the climate solution.

“We are developing the IEMA Green Careers Hub to showcase pathways for young people into the wide range of green jobs that are being created as a key enabler of the net-zero transition.”

Only half of the students surveyed said that their generation can have a high impact on tackling issues surrounding the environment and climate change, and just 39% were confident in their understanding of the term ‘green jobs’.

This lack of understanding may be in part due to their school curriculum, with 75% agreeing that they would like or would have liked to learn more about climate, sustainability and environmental related topics at school.

Additionally, only a fifth felt informed about the range of green jobs available to them.

Rachel Skinner, executive director at WSP, said: “For us to successfully tackle the many dimensions of the urgent climate challenge, we can’t carry on doing things the way we always have.

“Having the right skills – in sufficient strength, breadth and depth – is essential if the UK is to seize the opportunity to boost economic growth and build new expertise through the climate transition.”

Learn more about green skills at IEMA's Green Careers Hub here.

Image credit: Unsplash


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Career profile: Kimberley Lasi, CEnv, MIEMA

Senior consultant, EcoAct

3rd April 2024

Read more

At a School of Management careers event at Cranfield University, one of our IEMA-approved university partners, we spoke to students from a range of postgraduate courses, from supply chain to marketing and management.

28th March 2024

Read more

To make real change on sustainability, it’s time to redefine leadership models, writes Chris Seekings

1st February 2024

Read more

Caris Graham (she/her) is Diverse Sustainability Initiative officer at IEMA

1st February 2024

Read more

Lisa Pool reflects on the highlights of the past year and what they mean for the future

1st February 2024

Read more

The percentage of women working in the built environment sector rose significantly last year although people from ethnic minorities find it up to six times harder to be recruited, according to a major survey.

17th January 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close