UK heading for green skills shortage, business leaders warn

11th May 2023

Most UK business leaders believe the country is facing a green skills shortage, with many struggling to find the new staff they need, a survey has found.

The poll of 500 business leaders found that 68% fear a green skills gap, with shortages particularly acute in areas of sustainable engineering and sustainable finance.

To plug this gap, 26% are now investing in professional training to upskill and prepare their existing workforce, while another 23% are offering more on-the-job training and apprenticeships.

Workers have also identified the shortage, with a separate poll of 2,000 employed adults finding that 27% are eyeing up a green job as their next career move, although many are unsure if they have the necessary skills.

Of those thinking about a switch, 47% are interested in the renewable energy sector, according to the research, which was commissioned by global recruitment experts Michael Page, part of FTSE 250 PageGroup.

“We’re not surprised to learn that so many workers view green industries as a critical career move,” said Joanna Bonnett, head of sustainability at PageGroup. “While this is great news, nearly half of those considering a green job do not believe they have the right skills to do so.

“To ensure the UK succeeds in its green transition efforts, it's crucial for policy makers, businesses, and educational organisations to collaborate and invest in properly preparing the workforce.

“Doing so will create a pipeline of talent that is ready for the jobs of the future and tackle the green skills shortage, which, if not addressed, could drastically slow down net-zero efforts.”

IEMA has called for this year’s COP28 cover text to include a commitment to delivering green skills and training, with CEO Sarah Mukherjee MBE arguing in a recent blog that there is “often a lack of clarity” around how green jobs are going to be delivered.

The Institute has also 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.

Half of the adults surveyed that were considering a green job wanted a role that positively impacted the planet, while 36% wanted to future-proof their careers.

To ensure their skills are compatible with future green jobs, 28% plan to undergo training related to their current specialism, with 26% exploring online courses to achieve the necessary qualifications.

As for business leaders, 55% said it was important that new staff demonstrate their consciousness about climate change, with 31% claiming that it was a priority to invest in staff to prepare them for a green future.

It was also reported that 43% of businesses remain committed to working toward their sustainability goals, despite the rising costs of living.

Bonnett added: “With one in five companies currently recruiting for green positions, it is clear they recognise the significance of the green transition, and importantly, the benefits it brings to their business and workforce.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

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