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Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Needed To Power UK's Net Zero Energy Commitment

1st February 2020

Photograph of Hundreds Of Thousands Of People Needed To Power UK's Net Zero Energy Commitment

Research reveals 400,000 job opportunities for a ‘Net Zero Energy Workforce', including nearly 100,000 roles across the north of England

The UK will need to recruit hundreds of thousands of people into its energy sector if it is to meet its target to deliver net zero emissions by 2050. Research published by National Grid today reveals the industry will need to fill 400,000 jobs, bringing opportunities for skilled tradespeople, engineers and other specialists across every region of the country.

The employment and skills impact of the 2050 target is explored for the first time in a new report from National Grid, ‘Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce'. Written in partnership with Development Economics, the report looks at the implications of the Committee on Climate Change's advice that net zero will require fundamental changes to how energy is generated, distributed and used.

These changes, which include an increase of electrification to support a widespread shift to electric vehicles as well as the introduction of low carbon heating for millions of homes, will offer employment opportunities the length and breadth of the country.

In the North East, for example, the research shows more than 21,000 new recruits will be needed to deliver projects such as offshore wind and the interconnector off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland. Almost 28,000 roles will be needed to work on projects including the further development of offshore wind farms in the East of England, while the development of carbon capture and storage in the Yorkshire and Humber region is projected to support the creation of over 17,000 jobs. In Scotland, workers with net zero-related skills will be needed to fill over 48,000 jobs by 2050 with a further 25,000 roles expected in Wales.

Nicola Shaw CBE, Executive Director of National Grid, said: "Britain reached a major milestone last year as we saw zero carbon electricity outstrip fossil fuels for the first time. But there’s still a long way to go. As the pathway to net zero becomes clearer, so must our understanding of the jobs and skills we need to succeed.

"Our research shows that to deliver net zero, the energy industry needs to recruit hundreds of thousands of people over the next thirty years - and that really is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the wider impact of net zero across other industries. The time is now for the sector to rise to the challenge and overcome the long-standing issues we face in recruiting a diverse workforce with the right skills to deliver on the UK’s ambitions."

Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Kwasi Kwarteng, 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 two million green-collar jobs across our world-class renewables sector, among other industries."

A decade to deliver

Of the 400,000 roles that need to be filled over the next 30 years, the sector needs to recruit 117,000 this decade if it is to meet key milestones up to 2050. The report identifies four strategic challenges, warning of a looming retirement crunch, stiff competition for talent with other sectors, a pipeline of young people pursuing STEM qualifications that is still too narrow and an ongoing lack of women in the sector. These issues are not new, but fresh consumer research shows that tackling climate change could be the motivator to unlocking new talent.

Research, conducted by YouGov for National Grid’s report, found that people of all ages, from all regions across the UK are looking for a job with environmental purpose. Over eight in ten women (83%) say they are keen to play their part in tackling climate change as are 73% of men. Over half (57%) of adults are specifically looking to work for an organisation that is helping the UK to deliver its net zero goals.

David Wright, Chief Electrical Engineer at National Grid, said: “To build a skilled, diverse and motivated Net Zero Energy Workforce that will tackle the global climate crisis, we’ve got to look at every stage of the pipeline. We know that over half of people want to work in this space so we’ve got to help the existing workforce to reskill, while bringing new talent into the sector and inspiring the next generation to pursue STEM subjects at school and beyond."

Nick Ellins, Chief Executive of the Energy & Utility Skills Group, said: “As a vital enabler of the UK transition to a zero carbon future, National Grid has set out clearly the critical role of the workforce in achieving that ambition and the change needed to build the necessary human capital for the future.”

National Grid invests £7.5 million per year in training UK employees to ensure its people have the skills to meet the changing needs of a net zero nation. Its flagship training facility at Eakring, near Nottingham, offers 800 courses ranging from digital risk and cyber security, to introducing and managing renewable energy sources. National Grid also supports STEM-related activities for tens of thousands of schoolchildren a year around key infrastructure projects.

To download a copy of ‘Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce’ or to find out more about a career at National Grid, visit: www.thejobthatcantwait.co.uk

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