Green Jobs Contents

5Diversity, inclusion and access to green jobs

Diversity and inclusion

133.Diversity and inclusion was a strong theme in the evidence received, with contributors calling for action to increase workforce diversity and inclusion in the green workforce.354 2017 analysis undertaken by Policy Exchange showed ‘environment professionals’ to be the second least diverse out of 202 occupations, ahead only of ‘farmers’.355 Research conducted by IEMA, SOS-UK and the Equalities Trust found only 3.1% of environment professionals identify as ethnic minorities.356 We have also heard about a lack of diversity in STEM, important to the future green economy. Professor Josie Fraser, of IET, told us:

Only 9% of engineers are women; that is a huge problem. We do not design solutions for big planetary problems when we are engaging only half of the people on the planet to solve the challenges.357

Contributors told us that retention, as well as recruitment, was important to ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce.358

134.EngineeringUK say addressing the diversity gap in engineering would not only address skills gaps, but also ‘create opportunities for all young people in the green economy, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability status or socioeconomic background’:

Getting this right is in many ways a ‘win-win’ situation. Not doing so will mean that large parts of young people in the UK will be denied the opportunity to participate in, shape and drive the green recovery of this country and the country will be denied the diverse and insightful workforce that enables it to thrive.359

IEMA warned that if green sectors failed to change and adapt, ‘there is a danger that it will become irrelevant, and unworthy of support from the communities it seeks to work in partnership with on the transition to a net-zero and sustainable future’.360 Venetia Knight, of Groundwork, told us:

We have all been talking about these issues and the fact that sustainability is about all careers and all jobs, and we need to take people with us on that journey. We need to be training everybody and we need to reach into communities. Again, if we do not have people working in our sector from diverse communities, that reach is not going to happen, so we will just fail to hit our targets if we do not have an inclusive workforce. It is about creating solutions, but being able to use the diversity of skills and thought to solve the problems in creating environmental solutions.361

135.At our roundtable event with young people, we heard that the lack of ethnic diversity in environmental sectors was discouraging to those wanting to work in those professions, and that their perspectives were necessary to help find solutions to climate problems. We heard that opening up access via apprenticeships and better outreach with entrepreneurial groups could enable people from diverse backgrounds to share their ideas and solutions. We also heard the perception of green jobs as less financially secure could be a barrier.

136.The Government recognised the issue of diversity and inclusion in green jobs from the outset, tasking the Green Jobs Taskforce with looking at how diversity could be increased ‘across green sectors’.362 BEIS told us the Government ‘will make sure that our growing green economy is inclusive, benefitting people across the UK’.363 This is welcome given the scale of the problem; without action to address the lack of diversity and inclusion from the outset, an increase in green jobs could exacerbate existing inequalities while missing out on the opportunities arising from involving a wide range of people and skillsets in addressing the climate and nature challenge.

137.Alongside recommendations for industry bodies, employers and the education sector, the Green Jobs Taskforce recommended that the Government ‘ensure that all bidders for net zero related funding demonstrate best practice in relation to their equality and diversity ambitions and practices, and support transparent reporting of data on workforce diversity’, ‘explore if the collection of [diversity] data should be enforced, and the data published regularly’ and that ‘appropriate and stretching equality and diversity targets and initiatives to achieve them’ be included in sector deals.364

138.The Government’s ambitions to increase diversity and inclusion are welcome; what is missing is an articulation of the Government’s targets for increasing diversity and inclusion, and a way for the Government to know if it is achieving those ambitions. We asked Minister Keegan how the Government would monitor its progress against its aim to increase diversity in the low-carbon workforce. She responded:

It is a huge and continuing challenge. We have targets on it. The DfE has targets for inclusion, for black and ethnic minorities, for women and also for those with special educational needs. It is continuing to make sure those opportunities are widely available.365

We note that DfE has responsibility for skills and education, rather than green jobs as whole. To be able to monitor its progress towards its aims, the Government needs to set out its ambitions in a measurable way and then measure its progress against these. This will involve addressing the issue raised by the Green Jobs Taskforce that there is not currently a way to measure diversity and inclusion in green jobs.366 It would be valuable, therefore, if the Government’s targets and metric for diversity and inclusion were aligned with its metric for green jobs, as recommended in Chapter 1.

139.To be able to monitor whether its ambitions to increase diversity and inclusion in the green workforce are being achieved, the Government needs to articulate these ambitions in a measurable way and have a metric for measuring diversity and inclusion in the green workforce.

140.By the end of 2021, the Government should set out its ambitions for improving diversity and inclusion in the green workforce and set out how it will measure diversity and inclusion in green jobs, for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating progress towards its aims.

Enabling infrastructure

141.We have heard that it is important that the Government also consider the wider infrastructure which enables people to access green jobs. Groundwork told us:

To enable people to take up green jobs, there must be accompanying investment in the parts of the economy that facilitate work. For example, to make work possible people must be able to access care for children and adult dependents and low carbon transport.367

Dr Joanie Willett, of the University of Exeter, told us people in rural areas without a car are reliant on other forms of transport, with the availability and affordability of public transport having a significant effect on their ability to take up jobs in local labour markets, despite the skills they might have.368 Venetia Knight, of Groundwork, said digital connectivity was an issue for rural communities.369

142.The Government has said it must ensure that green jobs ‘can be accessed by people of all backgrounds and in all parts of the country’.370 The Government’s Build Back Better policy also makes reference to fair access to jobs, wages and skills.371 However, while the Green Jobs Taskforce contains recommendations for access to training opportunities and discusses the need to remove the barriers stopping women and other underrepresented groups from accessing green jobs,372 there are no recommendations relating to this wider, supporting infrastructure for access to green jobs.

143.When we asked Amy Jenkins, of BEIS, whether the Green Jobs Taskforce had considered enabling infrastructure such as internet access, public transport and care, she told us ‘the infrastructure that enables people to reach those jobs has probably come in more at a peripheral level to the Taskforce’s conversations.’373 She added that:

We are really conscious that often people tend to look for work in a locality. That is part of the journey the taskforce has started, to understand the areas of evidence we have around that.374

144.Something that has not been considered in the Green Jobs Taskforce report recommendations is the wider enabling infrastructure which allows people to physically access green job opportunities, such as public transport, care and rural broadband connectivity. This will involve co-ordination across the Government. This wider infrastructure needs to be factored into the Government’s green jobs and just transition delivery plans from the outset; if people are unable to physically access green job opportunities, this could undermine not just the Government’s ambitions for the number of people seeking and successfully entering green jobs, but also its ambitions for a just transition and diversity and inclusion in the green workforce.

145.The Government’s green jobs and just transition delivery plans should include analysis of the enabling infrastructure needed for people to access new green jobs, and allocate actions to the departments with responsibilities over this infrastructure.

Careers strategy

146.Contributors stressed the important role careers information will play in making people aware of green job opportunities and the skills and training they need to access these.375 Richard Kendall, of the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership, explained:

The bit that often gets missed is being active in identifying what the opportunities are. This is careers advice. It is all very well jobs being there and the training being there but, if people do not know about the opportunity, they are not going to enter it.376

Contributors told us this information was important to those seeking a green job at the start of their careers as well as those looking to retrain or re-enter employment, including as a result of the net zero transition or pandemic impact.377 Furthermore, we heard that improving awareness of green job opportunities and how to access them could attract a wider pool of applicants, increasing diversity and inclusion in the green workforce,378 and could enhance perceptions of the attractiveness of green jobs.379 Contributors told us this also applied to careers using STEM skills.380

147.However, contributors told us that more is needed from current careers advice provision to ensure the public can find out what sorts of ‘green job’ are out there, and how to go about getting one.381 Venetia Knight, of Groundwork, said:

Sometimes people do not understand the green economy, and I do not think that there is very good careers advice generally about the kind of jobs and opportunities that are there. If you talk to careers advisers, they do not really get it, so there is a lot of work for us to do as organisations—and especially organisations like Groundwork that are about connecting communities and business—on getting the message out there about what work is like, what career paths people can go down and what the opportunities are.382

Dr Joanie Willett, of the University of Exeter, identified ‘a big communication gap between people that have opportunities, and the people that need opportunities’,383 and Groundwork UK say there is a ‘need to upskill work coaches and other professionals providing support to job seekers, or careers advice in education settings, to ensure that they understand the opportunities available in the green economy.’384

148.At our roundtable discussion with young people, we heard anecdotal evidence about the difficulties of finding and accessing green job opportunities and an absence of information on green jobs at school. We heard that green jobs were seen as less prestigious and less financially rewarding than other careers, although there was satisfaction in making a positive difference to the environment for future generations. One participant told us older colleagues were dismissive of green careers and had tried to discourage the participant from pursuing one.

149.The Green Jobs Taskforce says ‘good green careers advice is crucial across all levels of education’:385

This is to ensure advice on what green jobs are available to individuals, as well as the training and education pathways into them, is clear, accessible and resonates across different audiences. This is equally applicable to those in work or out of work, and for those considering changing jobs.386

The Green Jobs Taskforce has called for the Government to provide green skills and careers advice through a ‘Green Careers Launchpad’ to coincide with the UK’s COP26 Presidency, accompanied by a green careers marketing campaign, and to promote green skills and employment opportunities through Jobcentre Plus.387

150.The Government recognises the importance of ‘impartial, lifelong careers advice and guidance available to people when they need it, regardless of age, circumstance, or background’ within its Skills for Jobs White Paper, describing careers information as ‘fundamental to the success’ of the reforms.388 The Government’s online National Careers Service provides details of more than 60 careers on its ‘Environment and Land’ page, many of which could be considered green jobs.389 Minister Keegan told us ‘there has been a lot of work recently on careers and careers education’.390 The Minister recognised the role careers advice could play in increasing diversity and inclusion in green jobs,391 and told us that the Government had invested in careers hubs in schools, where students could engage directly with local employers.392 Minister Davies told us that Jobcentre Plus and new youth hubs for under-25s could ‘give people the confidence and the skills for a changing labour market’.393 Minister Keegan told us it was the Government’s job to make it easier for people to see clear routes to green jobs.394

151.However, what is missing currently is a plan for exactly that; how careers advice will be used to achieve the Government’s green jobs ambitions and to address the knowledge gap of green jobs in the public. Minister Keegan acknowledged to us that careers advice on green jobs ‘probably needs beefing up’, adding:

We are very much at the beginning of that journey so people can link [education about the environment] to jobs, choices and subjects.395

The Government’s current Careers Strategy (2017) does not make any specific reference to careers in green sectors,396 and predates the 25 YEP (2018)397 and the passing of Net Zero legislation (2019),398 two policies expected to drive significant changes across the economy and accelerate the growth of UK green jobs. When we asked how the Careers Strategy was being adapted to align with the Government’s net zero goals, Minister Keegan responded that the Careers Strategy provided the ‘building blocks’, such as careers hubs in schools.399

152.While the careers advice infrastructure provided by careers hubs, Jobcentre Plus and youth hubs could provide a valuable avenue for green careers advice, the all-encompassing impact of the Government’s flagship environmental policies, net zero and the 25 YEP, alongside its ambitions for stimulating growth in green jobs over the 2020s, requires strategic consideration of how careers advice will be leveraged to connect those seeking a green job with the opportunities that are being created. Without this, there is a risk that careers advice provision fails to align with the Government’s green job ambitions.

153.Careers advice will play an important role in making people aware of green job opportunities and the skills and training they will need to access these, so it is important that the Government’s Careers Strategy is updated to align with the Government’s wider environmental, net zero and green jobs ambitions. Given the different population groups who will be interested in finding out about green jobs, from different societal and occupational backgrounds and at different stages in their careers, it is important that the Government identify these different populations as part of this strategy update, and plan how to reach these groups. There are valuable opportunities here for the Government’s Careers Strategy to act as a catalyst for the Government’s other green jobs ambitions, such as ensuring diversity and inclusion and a just transition.

154.There is a gap in the public’s awareness of green job opportunities and how to access them. It is welcome that the Government acknowledges the importance of green careers advice, however the Government’s latest Careers Strategy (2017) pre-dates both its net zero (2019) and 25 Year Environment Plan (2018) ambitions, and needs to be updated so that careers advice can play its role in delivering these.

155.By the end of 2021, the Government should set out how it will adapt its Careers Strategy to align with its net zero and environmental goals, including how it will reach different groups of the population to increase awareness of green job opportunities and how to access them, such as through its careers and youth hubs and Jobcentre Plus.

Case study: Gaining employability skills through nature jobs

RSPB estimates that current commitments alone could generate 127,485 nature jobs across the UK.400 Contributors told us that nature jobs can provide employment and training in rural and coastal areas, helping towards the Government’s levelling up ambitions, and address inequalities in access to nature, including through projects in urban green spaces.401

Groundwork told us green jobs in nature provided opportunities for ‘new entrants to the labour market with few skills or experience’ to gain practical skills and qualifications, citing Groundwork’s Green Teams programme, where young people experiencing unemployment work towards a Level 1 qualification in horticulture or land management while improving their local environment.402

Venetia Knight, of Groundwork, explained how nature jobs could provide wider transferable skills:

If you are working outside, things do not go to plan. You have to be quite flexible. You have to problem solve and work out how to deal with it. There are also plenty of team work opportunities—communication between different people is absolutely critical for effectiveness—and opportunities to develop leadership skills. There is also a critical thing about working outside in all weathers, you have to be quite hardy and resilient and just get on with it. Those are all good things that employers value, so they are great skills that you can continue with within the natural environment sector, but they are very relevant to other employers across the board.403

354 Q57; UK Women’s Budget Group (GRJ0003); Miss Nicolle Moyo (Student at University of East Anglia) (GRJ0010); Sustrans (GRJ0011); Education and Training Foundation (GRJ0014); IEMA - Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (GRJ0025); EngineeringUK (GRJ0038) National Grid (GRJ0043); Institute for Public Policy Research (GRJ0059)

355 Policy Exchange, The two sides of diversity (March 2017), p. 23

356 IEMA - Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (GRJ0025)

359 EngineeringUK (GRJ0038)

360 IEMA - Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (GRJ0025)

362 GOV.UK, Green Jobs Taskforce Terms of Reference (December 2020), p. 1

363 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (GRJ0063)

367 Groundwork UK (GRJ0015)

368 Dr Joanie Willett (Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Exeter) (GRJ0004)

371 GOV.UK, Build Back Better: our plan for growth (March 2021), p. 69

375 Q137; Dr Joanie Willett (Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Exeter) (GRJ0004); Enginuity (GRJ0009); Education and Training Foundation (GRJ0014); Local Government Association (GRJ0016); Lord John Bird (Founder, Chair and Editor-in-Chief at The Big Issue) (GRJ0030); BSW Timber Group (GRJ0036); EngineeringUK (GRJ0038)

377 Q50; Dr Joanie Willett (Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Exeter) (GRJ0004); Local Government Association (GRJ0016); EngineeringUK (GRJ0038)

380 Q158; EngineeringUK (GRJ0038)

381 Dr Joanie Willett (Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Exeter) (GRJ0004); Education and Training Foundation (GRJ0014); Groundwork UK (GRJ0015); Local Government Association (GRJ0016); Environmental Services Association (GRJ0052); SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK Ltd (GRJ0056)

383 Dr Joanie Willett (Senior Lecturer in Politics at University of Exeter) (GRJ0004)

384 Groundwork UK (GRJ0015)

386 Ibid., p. 57

387 Ibid., p. 58

389 GOV.UK, National Careers Service, Environment and Land, accessed 11 October 2021

400 RSPB (GRJ0028)

401 Groundwork UK (GRJ0015), RSPB (GRJ0028), BSW Timber Group (GRJ0036)

402 Groundwork UK (GRJ0015)

Published: 25 October 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement