From education to employment

Government not sufficiently grappling skills gap needed for net zero

The Environmental Audit Committee (@CommonsEAC) warns that inconsistent Government policy on green jobs and a knowledge-gap in necessary skills are resulting in missed opportunities, in their latest report, Green Jobs, published today (25 Oct). 

The Committee expresses disappointment that despite announcements committing millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, the Government is yet to define what a ‘green job’ is, and how it will evaluate the perceived demand.

The Net Zero Strategy, which claims to support up to 440,000 jobs by 2030, would have been the ideal opportunity to offer clarity on how to define and measure what ‘green jobs’ are. 

While the Strategy set out the Government’s green jobs and skills ambitions, what is needed now is a detailed, actionable delivery plan.

Delay in clarifying this information could lead to the Government’s ambitions amounting to an aspiration, and failing to prepare the UK for the future.

This lack of understanding was apparent in the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme, where the Government failed to engage with the sector to develop the skills required, resulting perversely in contractors making staff redundant as consumers awaited confirmation of vouchers.

During the inquiry, the Committee heard that climate change and sustainability risked being seen as a ‘tick box exercise’ in education. It is imperative that current and future workforces are both climate and sustainability literate: criteria that must run through all education and training.

To achieve this, the Committee recommends that environmental sustainability be embedded across all National Curriculum and A Level courses, and a module on sustainability included in every apprenticeship and T Level course.

This should then, in turn, lead to a knock-on effect boosting diversity in the sector. The Committee heard that currently only 9% of engineers are women, and only 3.1% of environment professionals identify as ethnic monitories.

This leaves a huge proportion of the country where the skills and abilities are not being tapped into. While the Government’s commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in the green workforce is welcome, the sentiment is not enough. The Government must set out its aims in a measurable way and have a metric for measuring diversity and inclusion. 

Careers advice will play a major role in making people aware of the opportunities in green sectors. During a Committee roundtable discussion with young people, MPs heard that advice and information is lacking on what jobs are out there.

The Committee recommends that the national Careers Strategy is adapted by the end of this year to align net zero and environmental goals.

Despite Ministers insisting that net zero is embedded across Government, its employment schemes – such as Kickstart and Restart – do not embed sustainability.

It appears that little future-proofing is being undertaken, with only 1% of Kickstart placements in green sectors. This is despite the promise of ‘shovel ready’ jobs such as walking and cycling infrastructure, nature restoration and energy installation.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“From renewable energy clusters in the North East and Scotland, to engineering powerhouses in the Midlands and nature conservation in the South West, we are building an economy set for net zero.

“But the workforce of the future is being undermined by a lack of evidence-based Government policies on how jobs will be filled in green sectors. Encouraging announcements of investment in green sectors of the economy are very welcome but the Government admits that claims about green jobs lack explanation and data on how the targets will be achieved.

“Our report today sets out how these green jobs roles can be filled. Monitoring the sectors and regions where the jobs are needed, and rebooting careers advice that demystifies green jobs, is critical if we are to meet our environmental goals.”

The Committee also repeats it’s previous recommendation that a National Nature Service be established: this can provide people with wider employment skills and help build green capacity in the longer term.


Some of the Committee’s recommendations are:

  1. The Government should set out its definition of ‘green jobs’, and how it will measure the number, type and location of these over the 2020s, for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating the impact of its policies.
  2. By the end of 2021, the government department or body with overall responsibility for delivery of the Government’s green jobs policies should assign indicative costings to each department’s actions within the overall green jobs delivery plan.
  3. The Government’s net zero and environmental goals must be considered at the design stage of future labour market interventions, to ensure they align with the green recovery.
  4. The Government should pilot a National Nature Service during 2022.
  5. The Government’s own analysis into the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme must be completed this year to take learnings to inform future schemes’ designs, and include a plan for industry engagement, to rebuild trust.
  6. By the end of this year the Government needs to set out a programme to encourage development of relevant skills across the construction trade, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to stimulate development of skilled trades to increase the capacity markedly.
  7. A just transition plan should be published by the end of this year and assess regional as well as sectoral impact.
  8. Environmental sustainability must be included across all primary and secondary courses delivered through the National Curriculum and across A Level courses. Teachers should be supported to deliver this, with teacher training and continuous professional development.
  9. A module on environmental sustainability should be included in every apprenticeship and T Level course.
  10. The Government should set out its ambitions for improving diversity and inclusion in the green workforce and set out how it will measure diversity and inclusion in green jobs.
  11. The Government should set out how it will adapt its Careers Strategy to align with its net zero and environmental goals, including how it will reach different groups of the population to increase awareness of green job opportunities and how to access them.

Is the UK on track for 2 million green jobs by 2030?

7 June 2021: The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) holds its final evidence session as part of the Green Jobs inquiry, hearing from Ministers of BEIS, DEFRA, DfE and DWP.

Purpose of the session

The Government has announced that it hopes to create two million green jobs across the UK by 2030. This represents a tenfold increase on the current figure of 225,000 jobs in the UK’s low-carbon technology and renewable energy economy estimated by the Office for National Statistics.

During the inquiry, the EAC has heard how the Government’s target shows the right level of ambition to meet our environmental goals, but Ministers need to be more forthcoming with setting targets to drive inward investment to support the jobs long-term. The Committee was also told that the skills pipeline is needed in place now to support the net zero transition, and that ensuring diversity and inclusion in the green workforce must be a priority.

The Government led Green Jobs Taskforce is expected to publish a green jobs and skills action plan, which was due for completion in the Spring.


Wednesday 9 June 2021

At 2.30pm:

  • Rt Hon Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience for the COP26 Presidency and Minister of State (Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
            o Accompanied by: Amy Jenkins, Deputy Director, Clean Growth, Green Finance and Sustainable behaviours for Net Zero, BEIS
  • Gillian Keegan MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills), Department for Education (DfE)
            o Accompanied by: Sinead O’Sullivan, Director, Career Learning, Analysis and Skills Directorate, DfE
  • Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
            o Accompanied by: Jon Boswell, Head of Strategic Funding, Green Finance division, DEFRA
  • Mims Davies MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Employment), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
            o Accompanied by: Jessica Hodgson, Deputy Director, Labour Market Strategy, DWP

Environmental Audit Committee to hear from ‘green’ sectors and traditionally high-carbon industries on green job opportunities

7 May 2021: Marking its third evidence session as part of the Green Jobs inquiry, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) will hear from green sectors and traditionally high-carbon industries on the potential of green jobs, including the role of green jobs in addressing rising unemployment from covid-19.


Wednesday 12 May

At 2.30pm

  • Jane Cooper, UK Stakeholder Relations & Regulatory Affairs, Ørsted  
  • Dr Adam Read, External Affairs Director, SUEZ Recycling & Recovery UK
  • Venetia Knight, Head of Employment and Enterprise at Groundwork Greater Manchester, Groundwork

At 3.30pm

  • Pete Walters, Head of Environment and Sustainability, Chemical Industries Association
  • Andrew Mennear, Director, UK Government Affairs, bp

Purpose of the session

From the green sectors, the EAC will hear from representatives from the renewables sector, waste and resource management, and nature.

On the second panel, focussing on high-carbon industries, members will be seeking the views from oil and gas and chemicals.

Further areas which will be discussed include:

  • How traditionally high-carbon industries are adapting to the net zero transition
  • The role of green jobs in achieving net zero
  • A just transition to green jobs ensuring regions are not left behind
  • The transferability of skills to green jobs

Environmental Audit Committee to hold second evidence session into its Green jobs inquiry 

26 February 2021: The Environmental Audit Committee will be holding its second public evidence session as part of its Green Jobs inquiry.

Purpose of the session

The second hearing will consider how the skills, education and training required for a sustainable future can be delivered. The focus of the first panel will be on the education sector. The panel will outline how the education sector can contribute to the UK’s sustainable transition and provide the knowledge, education, training and skills required for green jobs.

The second panel will look at regional approaches to the transition. It asks what local areas and regions should do, and what help they need, to ensure their areas and communities are part of the move to a more sustainable society.


Wednesday 3 March

From 2:30pm

  • Ms Charlotte Bonner, National Head of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), Education and Training Foundation (ETF)
  • Mr Iain Patton, Chief Executive Officer, EAUC – The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education
  • Meg Baker, Director of Education, Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK)
  • Graham Petersen, Secretary, Greener Jobs Alliance
  • Lee Jowett, Fellow, National Association for Environmental Education, and Sustainable Schools Coordinator, Leicester City Council

From 3:30pm

  • Richard Kendall, Executive Director, Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
  • Samantha Smith, Director, Just Transition Centre
  • Kevin Bentley, Chair, Local Government Association’s People & Places Board, and Conservative Councillor, Stanway & Pyefleet Division, Colchester, Essex County Council

Environmental Audit Committee to hear the role Green Jobs could play in supporting the UK’s environmental ambitions 

29 January 2021: The Environmental Audit Committee will be holding its first evidence session as part of the Green Jobs inquiry.

This inquiry was launched shortly after the Government announced a Green Jobs Taskforce, which hopes to support the creation of 2 million jobs in the private and public sectors by 2030. The taskforce is in addition to Government investment – the Green Recovery Challenge Fund – which will go towards retraining thousands of people to take up new jobs being created.

Purpose of the session

The EAC’s evidence session will consider: the role of jobs with an environmental impact to the UK’s economy; the importance of developing the necessary skills and training to deliver the UK’s environmental ambitions; and how to lessen the impact on individuals and regions by a transition away from sectors with a negative environmental impact.


Wednesday 3 February

From 2:30pm

  • Libby Peake, Head of Resource Policy, Green Alliance
  • Luke Murphy, Associate Director for Energy, Climate, Housing and Infrastructure, Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Mike Hemsley, Team Leader, Carbon Budgets, Climate Change Committee

From 3:30pm

  • Sue Ferns, Trades Union Congress (TUC) & Deputy General Secretary, Prospect Union
  • Josie Fraser, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Open University, and Skills & Education Panel member, Institution of Engineering and Technology
  • Mr Martin Baxter, Director of Policy and External Affairs and Deputy CEO, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment

Can green jobs support Net Zero Britain ambitions while building back better from coronavirus? 

17th Nov 2020: The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has today launched a new inquiry looking at Green Jobs.

 Rising unemployment

The current coronavirus pandemic has led to rising unemployment levels and record numbers of redundancies as businesses around the country are affected by the pandemic.

In the three months to September 2020, the UK unemployment rate was estimated at 4.8%, and during the same period redundancies reached a record high of 314,000.

Green jobs could address unemployment and net-zero target

The UK’s move to meet net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 could provide a significant opportunity to address unemployment. The Committee on Climate Change, Local Government Association and the National Grid have all spoken of the high number of new jobs and skills required to achieve the net-zero transition.

As part of this inquiry, the EAC will explore how many jobs are needed in low carbon and sustainable industries, what skills and training will be needed to support the technologies of the future and whether there are any associated risks.

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“The ability for the UK to reach net-zero by 2050 hinges on having the workforce and skills equipped for new opportunities in low-carbon industries. Although the current economic outlook and rising unemployment rates are worrying, there is a real opportunity to upskill people in the industries of tomorrow. This could include areas such as renewable energy, low-carbon vehicles, establishing nature-based solutions, as well as renewed focus on repairing and recycling items to give them a new lease of life.

My Committee will be considering if the conditions can be created to facilitate a new wave of green jobs to help more people in to sustainable jobs for the future, while building back greener from coronavirus.”

Green Jobs Taskforce

This inquiry launch follows recent Government announcements of a new Green Jobs Taskforce, supporting the creation of 2 million jobs in the private and public sectors by 2030, and additional investment to the Green Recovery Challenge Fund which will go towards retraining thousands of people to take up the new jobs being created.

The Committee is inviting written submissions on the below areas:

  • What estimates are there for the jobs required to meet the pathway to net zero emissions, by sector, and other environmental and biodiversity commitments?
  • Does the UK workforce have the skills and capacity needed to deliver the green jobs required to meet our net zero target and other environmental ambitions (including in the 25-year environment plan)?
  • What needs to be done to ensure that these skills and capacity are developed in time to meet our environmental targets?
  • What measures should the Government take to ensure that its proposals to meet environmental targets do not by default lead to jobs in affected industries being exported?
  • What risks are there to meeting the government’s ambitions for green job creation in both the public and private sectors? What should the government do to create the conditions to ensure its commitments are met by both sectors?
  • Are the government’s ambitions for green job creation in the public and private sectors sufficient for the scale of the challenges? What changes should be made?
  • How can the UK ensure jobs are created in areas most impacted by the transition to a low-carbon economy?
  • What additional interventions should be undertaken to aid in a ‘just transition’?
  • What impact can green jobs have on the wider UK economy?
  • What contribution can green jobs make to the UK’s economic recovery from Covid-19?
  • How can the UK ensure high emissions are not locked-in when tackling unemployment?

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