From education to employment

3.7 million young people want a job in the #GreenGB economy

1,000 18-24 year-olds from across the UK were polled online from 20-28 August 2018, on their understanding of opportunities in the green economy. The results have been weighted to be representative of this sub-section of the UK population.   

Almost two-thirds (65%) say they would prefer a job in the green economy than one outside it – this equates to around 3,700,000 young people in the UK  

Six in 10 18- to 24-year-olds are interested in a ‘green collar’ job (59%). This equates to more than 3,200,000 young people in the UK. Nearly one in five (17%) is very interested in securing a ‘green collar job’ 

When asked why they want to pursue a ‘green collar job’, 67% of young people say to help tackle climate change, 49% say to work in an ethical sector’ and 46% say to work in a growing sector 

Young men are significantly more likely than their female counterparts to say they would be interested because they could earn a good salary (37% vs 29% of women) and it would mean working in an exciting sector (36% vs 26% of women).  

Most young people (70%) underestimate the number of jobs likely that could be created in this part of the economy in the UK, with only one in ten (10%) correctly identifying that up to 2 million ‘green collar’ jobs could be created by 2030 – reflecting the fact the low carbon sector could grow four times faster than the rest of the economy. 7 in ten think there will be a million jobs or fewer created by 2030 – half the amount of the estimate 

Most young people are unaware of the breadth of green collar jobs available. They associate the green economy with jobs such as wind turbine engineer, sustainability manager or car designer and don’t realise that an insurance broker or a financial analyst can also be part of the green economy. 

Almost two-thirds (65%) of young men are interested in a ‘green collar’ job, compared to 54% of young women. Those young people from higher socio-economic groups are also more likely to be interested than those not (62% compared to 56%).  

Affluent young men are more likely (65%) to want a ‘green collar’ job, while women from lower socio-economic groups are less likely to (49%).  

Women are significantly more likely than men to say they do not know which jobs would be considered ‘green collar’ (9% of women vs 4% of men). Interestingly, men are significantly more likely than women to think that the following jobs would be part of the green economy:  car designer (59% vs. 45%), nuclear engineer (53% vs. 41%), construction worker (44% vs. 34%), business owner/entrepreneur (40% vs. 32%) and civil servant (28% vs. 21%) 

There was the same level of enthusiasm for green collar jobs across all of the English regions and the devolved nations   

Green GB Week and the government 

The findings come ahead of the first Green GB Week, launching on 15 October. Green GB Week aims to highlight the opportunities of the global and domestic transitionto low carbon/cleaner growth for businesses across the UK and raise understanding of how businesses and the public can contribute to tackling climate change. 

The global move to clean economic growth – through low carbon technologies and the more efficient use of resources – is one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time.  

This is why we put clean growth at the heart of both our Clean Growth Strategyand the Industrial Strategythrough our new Clean Growth Grand Challenge.   

Green GB week will showcase the benefits clean growth will bring to all parts of society – from new jobs to cleaner air. 

This year the week will focus on marking 10-year anniversary of the Climate Change Act– celebrating UK leadership on climate change, highlighting the business opportunity from clean growth, and providing a platform for the latest research on the impacts of climate change.     

Last October (2017) the Government published the Clean Growth Strategy – an ambitious strategy to cut emissions while keeping costs down for consumers, creating good jobs and growing the economy. 

Clean growth can make a real difference to people’s lives, from reducing energy bills and improving air quality, to supporting new technologies and boosting earning power in high-quality jobs.  

We start from a position of strength – our emissions are more than 40 percent lower than in 1990 while at the same time, the UK’s GDP has increased by more than two thirds.  

Low carbon innovation is at the heart of our approach, with over £2.5 billion of government investment from 2015 to 2021. This forms part of the largest increase in public spending on UK science, research and innovation in almost 40 years.  

Clean Growth is at the heart of our Industrial Strategy and creates huge opportunities for the UK – we will seek to support technologies that deliver the maximum carbon emissions reduction, have a clear trajectory for cost reduction, and will allow us to lead within a sizeable global market. 

The Clean Growth Strategy is an important milestone in the UK’s work to cut emissions and grow the economy. But it is not the end of the process.  

As part of our modern Industrial Strategy, Clean Growth was identified as one of the ‘Grand Challenges’ of our time – recognising that clean growth will shape the global economy over the coming decades. This trend – through the use of low carbon technologies and the efficient use of resource – is one of the greatest industrial opportunities of our time. 

Nick Molho, Executive Director at Aldersgate Group, said: 

“The low-carbon sector is set to account for a major part of the UK economy in the years to come, with some analysts predicting it will represent 8% of the UK’s GDP in 2030. If the low-carbon economy is going to attract young people from a wide range of social, ethnic and gender backgrounds, we in government and business need to continue to communicate the breadth and scale of the opportunities it provides.  

“Low-carbon growth creates opportunities across a wide range sectors from renewable energy and electric vehicle manufacturing to green finance, energy efficient building design and ICT solutions to cut carbon emissions. These growth opportunities require a range of skill sets that can appeal to a broad cross-section of society.” 

Tom Thackray, CBI Infrastructure Director, said: 

“Green growth presents a massive opportunity for business so it’s encouraging that the majority of young people want to pursue green collar jobs.  

“A career tackling climate change – one of the biggest challenges the world faces – is extremely rewarding both personally and professionally.  

“Business and the Government must continue to work together to get this message across to the younger generation.” 

Case studies

Name: Andrew Sudmant, age 30

Profession: Climate Change Economist currently working on the case for low carbon investment in urban areas and actions that can reduce cities’ contributions to climate change.

Salary: You can expect to earn £25,000 – in excess of £40,000 as you progress from a research fellow to a Professor.

“We need to rethink planet action. We need to stop thinking of it as being costly and start realising climate action as an opportunity.” 

An environmentalist at heart, and a Climate Change Economist in practice, he discovered environmental economics at University which combined the “best of both worlds” for him. 

Currently a research fellow at the Climate Smart Cities programme at the University of Leeds, his work focusses on climate change and its impact on the economics of cities. 

His work on the New Climate Economy 2016 helped to highlight the value of creating Climate Smart Cities, revealing that investment in low carbon cities globally can create savings of US$17 trillion. Work Andrew has participated in has led to investment in several international cities, including a bus rapid transit scheme in Kolkata, India, supporting the rollout of electric motorbikes in Kigali, Rwanda and an expanding bicycle and low carbon transport network in Recife, Brazil. 

He enjoys the leeway his job gives him to approach questions and see problems, find innovative ways to solve them and see his work put into action, and gets great satisfaction from speaking with members of Government and Business and hearing that work he has contributed to has helped them with their work. 

Working in an environment where hours are rarely set, tasks are not defined and where there can be pressure and competition to get your work published, are some of the everyday elements that come with the territory too. If you are self-motivated, enjoy long term projects and are inspired by an issue, it is definitely the place to be.

Name: Catherine Graves, age 27 

Profession: Geographer, currently working as a Research Administrator 

 “You can make your interest your career and do something that you love!” 

Geographer by training, however she has a big interest in climate change and effecting behaviour change to build climate resilient economies. 

Currently working as a research administrator at the Sustainability Research Institute, her climate coordination and comms role expose her to huge array of people from different businesses and backgrounds, from city firms to the NHS. 

A typical day sees Catherine getting people enthusiastic about making changes locally, working with community groups and consolidating disparate projects spanning, pubic, private and third sectors both nationally and internationally, to bring people together and add value. 

She loves the scope her current role gives her to think out of the box and provide mechanisms to enable Leeds to move towards being a low carbon, climate resilient city. As a result of the contacts she made at COP 2017, she will be starting a PhD and continue in her role part-time. 

Catherine’s biggest draw to what she does is feeling valued, knowing she is contributing to society and working with other passionate people who share her interests even though they work in vastly different fields and across different industries. These shared values – working with people who care about the same thing as her help mitigate some of the more challenging aspects of working in sustainability.  

Her biggest satisfaction is being able to translate academic research into actual action! She works with a lot of different people across Leeds city and further afield. She loves being a catalyst and being the person that brings all the amazing work going on across the sustainability sector in Leeds together which, without her, might not happen.  

With sustainability-related roles becoming more available in unconventional/’non-traditionally-green’ organisations, she feels there are more job opportunities in the field now than there were when she started out. 

Name: Dr Katsiaryna Paborstava, age 30

Profession: Marine Biogeochemist at the National Oceanography Centre 

Salary: You can expect to earn from £30,000 – £40,000 as you progress 

“We are part of the ecosystem. We have to respect it.  When we use resources, we must do so making sure we don’t damage the place we live.”  

A Post-Doctoral research scientist with major expertise in the collection and analysis of microplastics, her work has seen her thousands of miles from land, across the Atlantic Ocean, scouring the waters for microplastics from the UK down to Antarctic.  

The expeditions quantify and characterize microplastics in marine particle samples from open ocean surface to the seabed, to understand how their characteristics and distribution change in time and space. In in addition, they aid in the tracking of potential sources of microplastics in the marine environment. 

This activity is helping to quantify how much microplastic pollution there is, what it is, how it behaves and what happens to it in the open ocean. This is crucial for identifying the effects and harms it could potentially cause, so that the appropriate solutions are found and taken to mitigate it and prevent it from happening in the future.  

The intelligence gleaned from this work is fueling businesses to seek ways to reduce the amount of plastic which could potentially harm the environment and in turn, influencing consumers to play an active part in it. Believing the works she does is important as it helps us understand how oceans actually work and how critical a role they play in the wellbeing of the planet as whole. 

One of the biggest fulfillments she gets from the work she does is that it gives her the opportunity to understand phenomenon, how finally things come together one piece and reveal the full picture.  One of other reasons she’d encourage younger people to consider a career in her field is that it takes you to places that most people just don’t go.  

Enjoying what you are doing, endurance, being ready to work in all sorts of conditions and being confined to a small space for long periods are some of the attributes a young person considering a career in her field would need to have.

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