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

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