From education to employment

Employer Demand for Jobs and Skills in “The Green Economy”

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Although there has been much talk about the Green Economy in recent years, and particularly in the last year or so, there has been surprisingly little discussed about what this means in terms of the labour market.

Whereas we might tend to assume that the Green Economy is all about businesses and jobs that are specifically environmental, the reality is far more nuanced, and what we actually find is that rather than there being a “green sector”, there tends to be green jobs growing within existing sectors, and even green skills being added to existing jobs. That being said, our economists have identified a number of job titles that can be said to be specifically “green”, and in this piece we take a look at how these jobs have been trending over the long term, and more recently.

The chart below gives a high level overview of the 366 job titles we have identified as being specifically “green”, on account of their being connected to things like conservation, environment, energy efficiency, recycling, renewable energy, solar power, sustainability and water/wastewater. Looking at demand for such roles across the UK over the past five years, the chart shows that the number of postings for such positions was really quite low until mid-2020, at an average of around 600 postings per month.

Since then, however, this has increased quite significantly, with the number of postings per month now reaching over 1,000:

Next, we can take a look at how employer demand has been trending across the regions of the UK, with the choropleth map below showing the percentage change in job postings at the Government Office Region level.

It is noticeable that every area saw a decline in employer demand from April to June — the first Lockdown period, in which demand for almost all jobs declined — but that there has since been strong growth across most regions, with Wales in particular seeing strong demand (157% growth in postings throughout the period), and London seeing the least (50%):

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Finally, we can dig into the data to get some more granular details on which jobs and skills have been most in demand, and in which local authorities demand has been strongest.

In the chart below, the first tab shows the Top 20 job titles according to the number of unique job postings over the last year, with Recycling Managers (6,258 unique postings), Environmental Health and Safety Specialists (5,598), and Sustainability Consultants (4,732) topping the chart.

The second tab shows the Top 20 Hard Skills demanded by employers looking to hire for the 366 job titles we have identified. There are some skills here which are generic hard skills, such as Microsoft Teams (which appeared in 21,828 job postings), Auditing (15,112), and Project Management (14,998), but there are also a number of more specifically “green skills”, such as Sustainability (20,309), Environment Health and Safety (16,121), and Renewable Energy (12,325). It should be noted that by identifying the skills that employers are looking for using this sort of detailed data, education providers can look to become far more deliberate in supplying the sorts of skills employers are looking for, by incorporating them into courses and modules.

The final tab looks at employer demand for these green jobs at the Local Authority level. Demand is dominated by the Westminster area, which has seen over 10,600 job postings over the last year, and there are also a number of big cities in there. Interestingly, there are also a number of smaller towns that make it into the Top 20, including Reading (804 unique job postings), Milton Keynes (707), and Warrington (422):

This piece has really just scratched the surface of an issue that education providers, LEPs, Local Authorities and other organisations will need to get to grips with over the coming years.

Defining the Green Economy from a labour market perspective – Free Webinar 23rd June 2021 

To help facilitate this understanding, we will be hosting a free webinar on 23rd June, where we’ll be defining the Green Economy from a labour market perspective, looking at how this can help identify the scale of the green sector within a given area, the demand for jobs and skills, and its economic value.

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