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Career Prospects in the Green Economy

Earlier this month, we celebrated Green Skills Week. Here, Anthony, Sustainability Manager at Thakeham Group discusses career prospects in the green economy and what skills are needed in these roles.

Green jobs growth is inevitable. If we are to meet the climate change and nature recovery targets set into UK law, we will need to transform every sector of the economy. To achieve this, we will need an army of skilled people, from wind turbine engineers to ecologists, sustainability advisors to energy consultants. 

What is a green job?

Green jobs are commonly defined as those involved in activities that have a positive impact on our planet. Roles where you are engaged in renewable energy (such as solar and wind), energy efficiency, recycling, low carbon transport, or recovery of the natural world. However, there are many other green roles in emerging sectors of the economy, from urban farmers to green investment advisors and the list is constantly growing.

There is no doubt this is a flourishing jobs market. Renewable energy jobs alone are growing seven times faster than the national average for employment growth. The government’s recent carbon emissions commitments will rely on us carrying out retrofits to 25million homes by 2050, in order to reduce their energy use and switch them to renewable energy sources. This will be the biggest infrastructure project the UK has ever seen and will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Indeed, the government sees green jobs as a key growth area as we recover from COVID, committing to there being two million adults in the UK employed in ‘Green Collar’ jobs by 2030.

At Thakeham we will need the skills of those in green roles to help us build zero carbon homes from 2025.  This will include a diverse spectrum of people, from solar PV installers to energy consultants. We will also be increasingly searching for goods and services that have positive environmental outcomes. Inevitably businesses that manufacture products that have green credentials will find themselves in increasing demand and jobs in green manufacture and product development may grow.  As Thakeham, and the wider construction industry, look to protect and enhance nature we will require a range of specialists to help us. From ecologists to survey the land and provide advice on how we support nature, to skilled conservationists and biodiversity specialists to help us design and manage green space for nature recovery.

Knowledge and skills

Beyond carbon emissions and nature recovery, we will need to turn to green specialists for advice in every aspect of how we design, build and maintain the communities we create, from flood prevention experts to future transport advisors. Inevitably for Thakeham, and businesses across the wider economy, every job will eventually be a green job. From an accountant considering the value of nature to the balance sheet to a landscaper managing parks for people and nature. Everyone will need to have the knowledge and skills to ensure the product or service they provide is compatible with the green economy.

But how can you position yourself to benefit from the growth in green jobs? Well, there are a number of paths into this diverse arena. Currently, most green jobs are specialisms that require a particular qualification and potentially a degree. However, there are a growing number of green apprenticeships or training programs. For example, technician apprenticeships with energy suppliers, or heating contractors, will include experience and training in the renewables sector. Depending on the industry you are most interested in STEM qualifications from HNC upwards could put you in a good position.

The growing range of green jobs means there is probably one out there that fits your skills or interests.  A great way to understand the market right now and the experience and qualifications you might need to develop, is to look at the jobs posted on greenjobs.co.uk, Environmentjob.co.uk or on the Environment sections of major jobs sites like Indeed. Nonetheless, most of the green jobs that will exist in 10 years time don’t exist yet. The best way you can be ready for this is to make decisions in your career now based on what that job might look like in the future. Don’t be afraid to ask about this in interviews, it will show you are thinking about where your career is going.

Look for jobs and organisations that clearly have a future in this new economy. Such as, businesses with ambitious climate change or nature strategies, or those whose product or service is compatible with a greener economy. Once on board, find where you can be part of the businesses’ transition and you could carve yourself a fulfilling career that evolves with the changing job market.

Finally, don’t panic. The days of single career paths are gone. You will likely have a number of careers across your working life, each building on the one before. So, if you don’t know what the best career paths is for you (green or otherwise) then do what interests you or keeps you growing your skills and confidence. Whatever you end up doing remain open minded to your next career move, as it might just be a green one.