Between September to November 2022, there were 1,187,000 job vacancies in the UK – impacting businesses’ productivity and ability to grow, and potentially costing the UK economy up to £39 billion a year in GDP. This is exacerbated by skills shortages – particularly in the emerging green economy.
Activity to close the UK’s green skills gap has, so far, focused on skilled employment requiring medium and high-level qualifications. There has been less attention on entry-level green jobs, and even less on how those outside the labour market can be supported into these roles. This includes individuals with social barriers such as, few educational and professional qualifications, experience of the care system, mental and physical health problems, and criminal records.
Catch22 commissioned the Green Alliance to explore the accessibility of entry-level green jobs and training pathways for disadvantaged groups. The report concludes that while entry-level green jobs are available and there are some supported routes into them, for many outside the labour market they remain hard to access.
As the UK works towards net zero, alongside efforts to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, it is vital to look beyond the existing pipeline into green jobs. Without doing so not only could we fail to achieve those targets, but there’s also a risk of perpetuating poor outcomes for individuals.
Carly McGoldrick, Assistant Director of Partnerships at Catch22, said:
“At present, too many routes into the green sector tend to exclude those facing challenges from health, education, background or otherwise. Awareness, training and securing employment emerged as the three key areas where policies need to be implemented to support those outside the existing labour market, which would otherwise be a missed opportunity.”
The report makes a number of recommendations around three key themes:
1. Developing awareness
Awareness of green careers is low. To attract people to green training and employment, the government must improve information and knowledge amongst jobseekers by:
- Run a national entry-level green jobs campaign
- Pilot green skills programmes using Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIPs)
- Create new green modules in schools and colleges
2. Finding training
Government, businesses, and local authorities offer several training pathways, but these are often inaccessible to disadvantaged jobseekers nor tailored for the green economy.
- Incentivise functional maths, English, and IT skills
- Increase financial security for jobseekers in training
- Target training programmes to increase provision of green skills.
3. Securing employment
Even with the prerequisite skills, jobseekers can struggle to find green entry-level jobs.
- Monitor the labour market to match supply and demand
- Create an entry-level green jobs board
- Offer businesses a super-deduction for cross-cutting green skills