Employment in the Green Economy

Most people want to help the climate crisis, not least of all to protect the future of their own children. The recent findings of a YouGov poll, showed that 80% of women and 70% of men are keen to play a part in tackling climate change.

People from all ages and regions over the UK are seeking employment with some environmental purpose. Working for organisations that are actively reducing their carbon footprint or supporting net zero goals in some ways is attractive.

Harnessing the positive impact of how our children are being taught to think about the environment - an awareness that is heightened by their school education, media attention and things like the Greta Thunberg school strikes - and formalising qualifications and a roadmap of possible green collar careers is vitally important.

Careers in the Green Economy

A statement on the gov.uk website claims:

The government is working with industry to encourage more students into STEM education and training, at all stages from primary school to higher education, funding programmes to increase the uptake of maths, computing and physics.  Recent research shows that almost two-thirds of 18-24 year olds would prefer a job in the green economy to one outside of it – equating to around 3.7 million young people in the UK.”

Renewable energy degrees and MAs have become increasingly solid, practical qualifications to gain. Available BA Honours degrees now include, amongst others:

  • Renewable Energy, with a focus on the science and networks involved in renewable energy. Students are exposed to topics ranging from environmental studies to thermodynamics.
  • Solar Thermal Renewable Energy, which includes construction, engineering and design and city planning. Energy management technicians, Solar thermal installers, Solar engineers and PV (photovoltaic) engineer and installer are all potential career choices.
  • Renewable Energy and Agriculture which encompass the role plants have in generating bio-energy. 
  • Renewable Energy and Architecture regards the ongoing need to build eco-friendly homes. Continuing to utilise renewable resources to build and consequently power our homes is sustainable and logical, with a career for life to follow.

Post graduation, there are literally hundreds of different choices if a graduate decides to pursue a career in renewable energy technology. Ecology, environmental, nuclear power management, energy generation, domestic solutions and renewable energy technologies are all options.

The Growth of Green Jobs

With or without formal degrees, in some markets, these "green collar jobs" are among the fastest growing sources of employment. Through 2026, solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians are expected to be the fastest growing jobs in the US. With increased use of those renewable sources of energy, energy auditors help businesses and households repair leaks to ensure that energy is put to good use.

By 2050, the number of new green energy jobs is likely to increase to well beyond 400,000. Where else will these green collar jobs be to the fore? 

  • Offshore wind is expected to provide 60,000 jobs from installation to back office
  • Hydrogen technology is expected to continue to be explored and produced to create jobs around transport, power and home energy. 
  • Nuclear could provide 10,000 jobs within the development of large scale projects and small and advance reactors
  • Electric vehicles are the next big thing in transport, with Boris Johnson banning the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2030. Jobs in manufacturing and sales have mass potential
  • Zero-emissions aeroplanes and boat and ship marine energy to be decarbonised with jobs in researching new projects to advance the technology
  • Building industry to increase green installations of renewable energy with a target to install 600,000 heat pumps every year until 2028. The UK is expected to completely transform its energy system to renewable heating systems using the likes of Air Source Heat Pumps, Ground Source Heat Pumps, Solar PV Panels, Bio-Mass Boilers etc. 
  • Transforming existing schools and hospitals. The NHS intends to be the first healthcare system in the world to go net zero by 2040. 
  • Jobs in improving facilities for cycling and walking, eco-experts in biodiversity planning the restoration of our natural environment, with tree planting projects.
  • 17,000 careers around the exploration of carbon capture CCS, with an ambition to store 10 million tons of CO2 by 2030
  • Green finance jobs 

Where will these Green Jobs be Located?

The national grid claims that 25% of green jobs will be based in the north of the country because of location projects in those regions, such as the offshore wind farm off the coast of Blyth, or the subsea power cable to Norway from North East of England 

The Yorkshire and Humber region will be the centre for CCS (Carbon Capture Storage) and the east of England will provide some 28,000 clean energy jobs for offshore wind farms placed there. 

London and the south is expected to be the home of green finance jobs and Scotland with a focus on geothermal projects and ground source heat networks with 48,000 jobs by 2050. Wales should play host to a further 25,000 green careers.

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