The UK must recruit more than 100,000 people to fill green energy roles within a decade if the government hopes to meet its binding climate targets, National Grid has warned.
A report by the company found that Britain needs to fill 120,000 roles in the green energy industry by 2030 to help develop projects that can cut greenhouse gas emissions to near zero. That number is likely to reach 400,000 by 2050, when the government expects to have developed a clean energy system based on renewable electricity, green heating systems and electric vehicles.
The growing need for new recruits to power the UK’s climate targets is expected to emerge as Britain faces a green energy jobs crunch over the next 10 years.
The report warned that a fifth of employees in the energy sector are due to retire by 2030. The UK’s energy industry faces stiff competition from other sectors and has a narrow pipeline of young people pursuing Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) qualifications to draw from, it said.
Nicola Shaw, the executive director of National Grid, said: “The time is now for the sector to rise to the challenge and overcome the longstanding issues we face in recruiting a diverse workforce with the right skills to deliver on the UK’s ambitions.”
The UK’s plan to cut emissions to virtually zero, and offset unavoidable pollution through carbon capture schemes, will require major investments in offshore wind, clean heating schemes, electric vehicles and carbon-capture technology.
The energy industry is expected to use its role in tackling the global climate crisis to encourage young graduates into the industry.
Research carried out by YouGov has found that people of all ages, from all regions across the UK, are “looking for a job with environmental purpose”. More than eight in 10 women and seven in 10 men have said they are keen to play their part in tackling climate change. Over half of adults are specifically looking to work for an organisation that is helping the UK to achieve its climate goals.
The rising need for green energy jobs could bring opportunities for skilled tradespeople, engineers and other specialists “across every region of the country”, the report said.
A quarter of the green jobs required will need to be based in the north of the country, according to National Grid. It estimated that more than 21,000 new recruits will be needed to complete energy projects, including an offshore wind farm off the coast of Blyth and the new subsea power cable to Norway from the north-east of England.
Meanwhile, the development of carbon capture and storage in the Yorkshire and Humber region is expected to support 17,000 new jobs. Another 28,000 roles will be needed to work on more offshore wind farms off the east of England.
In Scotland, green energy workers will be needed to fill more than 48,000 jobs by 2050, with a further 25,000 roles expected in Wales.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the minister of state for business, energy and clean growth, said: “Tackling climate change is not only saving the planet, but is significantly boosting our economy. As we work to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050, the UK has the potential to support 2m green-collar jobs across our world-class renewables sector, among other industries.”