UK could face future shortage in green jobs, says report

The UK could be facing a net zero skills shortage in the future if attitudes are not changed, according to a new report by Engineering UK. 

The non-profit organisation analysed almost 30 studies from across the engineering sector focused on green jobs and skills needed to decarbonise the economy. 

Findings show an inconsistent understanding of the future demand for enegineerong and technical skills required at a national level to reach net zero targets by 2050. 

A majority of the reports also neglected to mention the implications this would have on education and the uptake of STEM subjects required in schools to ensure targets are met.  

 Mike Hardisty, Head of Environmental Sustainability at EngineeringUK, said: ‘It’s clear that we could be sleep-walking towards a net zero engineering skills shortage without knowing how big the skills and educational gaps are and where they are. We need to change that to ensure that the right policies are in place to address this. The Unit for Future Skills would appear to be a good starting point to act as a hub to guide government on workforce issues like producing a regular national labour forecast. 

‘More needs to be done to encourage and enable young people across the UK to take up STEM-based qualifications with a view to tackling the climate crisis – if we don’t have enough young people studying chemistry and physics now, for example, it could lead to a shortage of electrical and chemical engineers, which means we will not have the necessary skills in the future workforce.’

Mr Hardisty said the UK is experiencing a lack of teachers in STEM subjects, as government stats reveal just 26.6% of physics teachers in 2019 had relevant post-A-level qualifications. 

This went down to 17.3% for biology and 6.9% for chemistry, while in primary schools only 5% of teachers held specialised science degrees and teaching qualifications. 

Engineering UK recommends the government get a better understanding of the scale of green jobs and skills required to achieve the UK’s net zero commitments. 

This could be done by clearly defining ‘green jobs’ or producing a skills taxonomy and by regularly reviewing the number of people taking up these jobs and workforce demand forecasts. 

The group also suggested the Unit for Future Skills be strengthened to guide the government on workforce issues. 

Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu


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