UK students feel uninformed about availability of green jobs

May 18, 2023

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WSP, the leading engineering and environmental professional services firm, have released new data from a survey of nearly 4,000 16-23-year-old students about the UK's green transition.

Conducted with market research company Savanta, the survey finds the majority of current UK students feel uninformed about the green jobs available to them.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) felt uninformed of the green career opportunities they could potentially pursue when entering the world of work, bringing sharply into focus the Government’s pledge to create two million green jobs by 2030.

The data also highlights some regional differences. Students from the South-East (78%) and Yorkshire, The Humber & North-East (76%) are most likely to feel uninformed about green job opportunities, with those from London (69%) and the East of England (70%) less likely to feel uninformed.

Eleanor Eyre, Head of Careers at EngineeringUK, said: "Young people care about the environment and sustainability, however the way we teach STEM subjects at schools and colleges fails to make the connection between tackling climate change and engineering solutions.

"Engineering businesses, sector organisations and government need to do more to raise awareness of the central role engineers and technicians have in achieving net zero and ensure that environmental sustainability is at the heart of STEM engagement programmes for schools and colleges.

"It's also vital that all young people have access to high quality careers guidance so they are informed and inspired to pursue green engineering and technology careers, to help make a difference."

When asked more specifically about the availability of green jobs to young people in their local area, only a quarter of students from Scotland (23%) and the North-West (24%), and one-in-three from London (29%), felt there were ‘lots’ - the highest figures of all regions analysed. Students overall were most likely to feel that there was ‘mixed’ availability of green jobs (36%).

Over half of students (54%) believe their local areas will have a role to play in meeting the UK’s net zero targets, with those in Scotland most optimistic about their region’s contribution (60%) and those in the North-east, Yorkshire and Humber least (50%).

Students from the Midlands (54%), South-West & Wales (56%) and East of England (57%) were also amongst the most optimistic about whether their local area has a role to play in meeting the UK’s net zero targets.

Jim Coleman, Head of Economics at WSP, said“A fundamental element of the UK’s transition to a green economy is that the opportunities it will bring can extend to every corner and community of the UK.

"It is concerning to see significant numbers of students feeling either uninformed about the potential jobs available to them, or perceiving that green jobs aren’t available in their local area, particularly in regions we know will play a vital role in decarbonising the UK economy and leading our national shift towards clean energy sources."

Data released by the Office for National Statistics earlier this year showed that Government is not on track to deliver its pledge to create two million green jobs by 2030, despite there being nearly 40,000 more jobs in the low-carbon and renewable energy sectors in 2021 than 2020.

Earlier data from WSP's 'Green Jobs for a Green Future' survey showed that future careers in sectors vital to decarbonising the UK's economy are struggling to appeal to students. Nearly two-fifths of students (37%) would not consider a career in Construction while over a fifth (22%) would not pursue a career in either Utilities or Transport.


For more information visit the WSP website.

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