Government not sufficiently tackling skills gap needed for net zero, MPs say

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The Government risks failing to prepare the UK for the future because it has not announced a detailed working plan for the jobs and skills needed in the green sector, a group of MPs has warned.

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said despite announcements committing millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, the Government has yet to define what a “green job” is and how they are to be filled.

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 what a “green job” is and how it can be measured, according to the EAC.

In its report, called Green Jobs, the committee said: “Achieving the Government’s net-zero and long-term environmental goals depends on a skilled green workforce in the economy to deliver these.”

It describes the level of Government ambition and the work carried out by the Green Jobs Taskforce as a good foundation for delivering this workforce.

The report adds: “What is needed now is a detailed plan for how these ambitions will be delivered.”

The EAC fears that delays in clarifying this information could lead to the Government’s ambitions amounting to no more than an aspiration.

It also believes it is key for current and future workforces to be informed about both climate change and sustainability, adding that these are issues which must run through all education and training.

The committee recommends that environmental sustainability appear in National Curriculum and A-level courses and that a module on sustainability should be included in every apprenticeship and T Level course.

EAC chairman Philip Dunne 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.”

The committee also says there is a huge proportion of people in the country whose skills and abilities are not being tapped into as currently only 9% of engineers are women and just 3.1% of environment professionals are from an ethnic minority.

It welcomes the Government’s commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in the green workforce but says the sentiment is not enough.

It is calling on the Government to set out its aims in a measurable way on how it seeks to improve diversity and inclusion in the green workforce.

Careers advice plays a major role in making people aware of the opportunities in green sectors but young people have told the MPs they need more advice and information on what jobs are out there.

Adapting the national careers strategy by the end of this year to align net zero and environmental goals could help with this, it was suggested.

Despite ministers insisting that net zero is embedded across government, the EAC says that employment schemes, such as Kickstart and Restart, do not embed sustainability.

They added that it appears that little future-proofing is being undertaken, with only 1% of Kickstart placements being made in green sectors.

The EAC also called for a national nature service to be set up in 2022 to provide work for people to restore nature and to help develop the skills and knowledge needed to create a greener economy.

A Government spokesman said: “Over the past year, 56,000 jobs have been created and supported in the UK’s green industries.

“To build on this success, we are delivering various initiatives to ensure people have the right skills to gain employment in Britain’s new low carbon industries.”

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