Public support for clean energy is growing at a pace of knots and most governments now also view climate change as a non-negotiable priority to tackle. Additionally, the business case for transitioning to a low carbon economy is now better understood and stacks up as a means of future-proofing any country from energy deficits or financial downturns.
With all of the above in mind, the UK’s Government has been looking very closely at its green policies, cognisant that switching to low carbon technologies will boost the British economy by billions of pounds over the coming years.
Just last year, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government set out its Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. This ambitious document outlines support for the low carbon sector via the creation of 250,000 new green jobs and via direct industry investment. It’s anticipated that the bulk of the earmarked funding will go towards electrical vehicle manufacture, construction and installation of offshore wind farms around the coast, and the retrofitting of homes across the country.
As part of the Ten Point Plan, the Government also announced the creation of the Green Jobs Taskforce. This new body is responsible for identifying and directing action around the job market as we transition to a high-skill, low carbon economy.
Just this week, the newly minted task-force released their first report, outlining their recommendations for what they think the Government’s priorities should be in order to achieve the ambitious ‘green jobs’ targets. Happily, the report is optimistic and illustrates that the UK can go much further and faster than previously thought.
A call to arms for the #GreenRevolution
The task-force’s main observation is that “green jobs and skills should not be considered as niche or restricted to certain sectors of the economy. Every job has the potential to become ‘green’ as the world moves to combat climate change, and there are a huge range of skills which will support the transition to a net zero economy.”
The report also states that “one in five jobs in the UK (approximately 6.3 million workers) will require skills which may experience demand growth (approximately 10% of UK jobs) in the transition.”
The assessment of the taskforce is that if the UK is to grasp the opportunities afforded by a green industrial revolution, we must develop a comprehensive view of the skills challenge first.
Their wide ranging recommendations include:
- The government should publish a detailed net zero strategy before COP26 which sets out how the UK will reach its decarbonisation targets for 2035 and 2050, to give industry, workers and skills providers the confidence they need to invest in the transition.
- The government should work with industry to extend its green recovery programmes to direct spending towards low carbon activities with rapid job creation potential, in areas at risk of unemployment.
- Employers and government should work with the skills and education sector to attract and retain talented teachers to teach subjects, including in STEM, which are important for green jobs.
- Employers, industry bodies, government and unions should work together to tackle barriers to retraining and upskilling so that no worker is left behind by the transition to net zero.
- To boost private investment and decarbonisation of industry, government should prioritise supporting high carbon sectors to transition and increase productivity and competitiveness, thereby protecting jobs and local economies.
Clearly, there’s a lot to be done but if the nettle grasping can be done now, the UK looks set for rapid and dramatic change for the better.
Ruth Chapman, MD at renewables consultancy Dulas writes that, “all sectors in the UK are about to go through enormous transformation as we focus on achieving net zero.”
“There are already nearly half a million jobs in low carbon businesses, with their output worth approximately £7bn to the economy. If we scaled that up as per the recommendations of the Green Jobs Taskforce, it would benefit every single person in the UK and the country would be permanently changed for the better.”
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