UK green jobs set to offer better salaries than high-carbon roles

5th July 2021


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Rachel Stone

New jobs that help drive the UK towards net-zero emissions are set to offer salaries that are almost one-third higher than those in carbon-intensive industries, research suggests.

In a new report, the think tank Onward highlights how an estimated 3.2 million workers will need to increase their skill level, or retrain in a new qualification, to meet the government’s 2050 net-zero target.

The typical skill requirement of a job in a carbon-intensive industry is 46% lower than the average net-zero job, and net-zero workers have qualification levels that are 24% higher on average.

The report also highlights how net-zero jobs have a median annual gross income of £37,190 for full-time employees, 18% higher than the national average, and 30% higher than jobs in current carbon-intensive industries.

This means that, with the right training, a worker in a net-zero transition industry could expect to earn £1.30 for every £1 earnt by an employee in a carbon-intensive role.

Ted Christie-Miller, senior researcher at Onward, said that the UK workforce is “woefully prepared” for the transition to net-zero emissions, and urged the government to help support the required upskilling nationwide.

“If we want people to take advantage of the opportunities of a green economy, and the well-paid green collar jobs it will provide, urgent action is needed to upskill and train people up and down the country,” he continued.

“This report provides a blueprint for the government to give businesses the tools to invest in their own workforce and workers the opportunities to improve their skills to grasp the full benefits of the net-zero transition. There is no time to waste.”

The regions which stand to disproportionately benefit from the net-zero transition are the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber, according to the report.

These regions make up 24.2% and 18.2% of areas in the top quintile of areas where there is high potential for industrial emissions abatement and a higher average skill level within the workforce.

The report calls on the government to:

  • Introduce a 'Green Human Capital Tax Credit' to encourage employers to invest in the skills of their employees
  • Develop new apprenticeship standards, T Levels and degree apprenticeships to provide net-zero industries with the opportunity to grow their workforces
  • Fund 2,800 net-zero aligned PhDs in order to bolster domestic engineering expertise
  • Review the free qualifications offered within the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, to ensure the key qualifications required for buildings retrofit are included to help realise the estimated 900,000 – 1.3 million new jobs that will be required in this space by 2030
  • Establish a number of prestigious 'Net Zero Academies' to address the low skills penetration in regions which also suffer from a high proportion of jobs in carbon-intensive industries.

“This report sets out the scale and urgency of the labour market challenge to ensure a successful and fair transition to net zero across all parts of the UK,” said Sue Ferns, member of the government's Green Jobs Taskforce. “It should focus political minds on the need for action now.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


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