From education to employment
Emsi becomes Lightcast

WorldSkills UK and Learning & Work Institute’s latest report explores barriers to plugging Green Skills Gaps

Solar and wind turbines
SkillsWorld Live - Why is qualification reform so controversial?

WorldSkillsUK (@worldskillsuk) and Learning & Work Institute (@LearnWorkUK) launch the report: Skills for a net-zero economy: Insights from employers and young people

Businesses cite spiralling energy costs as reason for urgent green skills boost

Despite wanting jobs to combat climate change – and increasing employer demand for green skills – young people do not understand enough about what ‘green skills’ and ‘green jobs’ actually are, warns a report released today (Friday).

It cautions that the UK risks missing its net zero targets and losing out on inward investment and high-wage jobs because young people’s appetite for jobs combatting climate change is being thwarted by a lack of advice and support on how to pursue a green career.

The report suggests young people fully understand the dangers the planet faces, with 71% saying they want to combat climate change and 62% saying they are passionate about sustainability. However, they are unsure know how to turn that passion into a career.

Meanwhile, employers are clear that they already have issues due to a green skill shortage. They expect things to get worse and are unconvinced the education system can solve the problem.

Three-fifths (59%) of employers said they need green skills now, or will in the future and of them two-thirds (67%) have struggled to recruit staff with the right skills. More than two-fifths (43%) said they were struggling to meet rising energy costs and 39% said the education system was failing to equip young people with the necessary skills.

Other key findings in the report, by Learning and Work Institute for WorldSkills UK, include:

  • 71% of employers said it is their responsibility to help tackle climate change
  • 79% of young people said it is important to work for an organisation committed to tackling climate change
  • 87% of young people said they did not know what green skills were    
  • Young women (83%) were more likely than young men (77%) to say that it was important to work for an organisation committed to tackling climate change
  • However, there is a significant gender gap in young people’s knowledge and understanding of green skills, with young women (72%) being more likely to say that they have never heard of green skills, compared to young men (53%).

Green skills are defined as the skills needed to promote a green economy recovery focused on reducing carbon emissions. This can range from technical green skills such as those relating to construction, engineering or manufacturing, to more general green skills such as project management, change management, leadership and communication skills.

On the back of the report, WorldSkills UK said it will develop careers advice to inspire more young people in to green careers. It will also align its skills competitions training programmes for young people and professional development programmes for teachers to meet the needs of industry and help boost the attractiveness of the UK to foreign firms looking to invest in green jobs and skills.

WorldSkills UK CEO Dr Neil Bentley-Gockmann OBE said:

“Employers report a growing demand for green skills and young people want careers that will help the planet. We need to make it easier to be green by tapping into that latent potential and help steer young people towards careers in areas like clean tech and decarbonisation. Our recent careers event on green jobs brought together leading employers to inspire young people and better explain what is needed to pursue a green career.

“Helping to meet UK ambitions for net zero is essential for the planet and it also holds huge opportunities for the economy. Boosting the supply of world-class green skills can help cement the

UK’s position as a leading destination for foreign direct investment, spurring productivity and creating highly skilled well paid green jobs across our nations and regions.”

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute said:

“Tackling climate change will create new jobs and change the skills needed in many roles. What’s clear from this report is that many young people are highly motivated to contribute to this change but unsure how this should affect their career choices.

“Being clear about this can help industries in the vanguard of the drive to net zero to attract the very best talent from the next generation. This will require partnerships between the education system and employers, inspiring young people to help transform our country.”

David Jones, NCFE’s Verticals and Horizontals Manager said:

“This is a really timely report, and highlights some key areas which as a sector, we must address. There needs to be clear pathways for young people through education into employment. We should support those giving careers advice and guidance to understand the opportunities available in sustainability – particularly parents and carers. As a sector we have to be responsive, and we need to collaborate to address the green skills needs, working really closely with employers to come up with solutions.

“We need to see a clear definition of green jobs and skills – one that’s used consistently. This will help young people in their understanding, and should provide a link between their passion around sustainability and how they can turn that into a career.

“Addressing the gender gap now should also be a priority. Let’s highlight some really positive role models, female “industry champions” so our young women have people to aspire to.”

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Employability, Work and leadership, Skills and apprenticeships, Featured voices

Related Articles

City & Guilds Associate Vacancies available - FE News


  1. There is general agreement that our current sources of energy are very bad for the planet and fundamental change to a more sustainable and green model is necessary.
    To get “upstream” of the issues that need to be resolved will require a massive, public, educational campaign and the creation of a modified curriculum from age 2 to 22 to ensure we have the right skills within the workforce to meet the challenge.

    This will be a bigger task than the move to a digital economy and we must learn from the mistakes made in this sector, not to repeat them as we move to a greener economy.

    Our Education sector, in particular the Department for Education must act now, with urgency, to provide Schools, Colleges and Universities with the right courses and properly trained teachers for the next 30 year challenge.