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Nascent green jobs market exposes UK regional disparities, says PwC

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Nascent green jobs market exposes UK regional disparities, says PwC
Each new green job generates a further 1.4 jobs — rising to 6 jobs for the energy sector. Photo: Matthew Childs/Reuters

The UK's new net zero economy is filtering through to the jobs market, according to a new report by PwC — but there is still an uphill struggle ahead to hit government targets. 

According PwC's new report, net zero jobs currently account for 1.2% of total advertised jobs, equating to 124,600 new jobs in total.

The government has said it wants to create 2 million "green" jobs by 2030, however it is so far unclear what this means or how progress is going to be monitored.

What is clear is that the impact of the net zero transition will be profound and there is a very real risk that people and communities could be left behind, PwC said. 

PwC's green jobs barometer tracks movements in green job creation, job loss, carbon intensity of employment, and worker sentiment across regions and sectors.

The report found that the current proportion of new green jobs is small, but each new green job generates a further 1.4 jobs — rising to 6 jobs for the energy sector — through increased demand for goods and services in the supply chain. 

Read more: Cladding crisis could threaten UK's financial stability, say reports

This figure should also grow as the UK accelerates efforts to transition to net zero. Nevertheless, the scale-up will need to intensify to meet government targets of 2 million green jobs by 2030.

“Jobs are getting greener and this is cause for optimism, but evidence is needed on the level and distribution of these opportunities," said PwC chairman and senior partner Kevin Ellis. 

Work is needed to ensure the green jobs transition doesn’t exacerbate regional inequalities. Yorkshire & the Humber, Northern Ireland and Wales are the lowest ranking regions across all aspects of the Green Jobs Barometer. Scotland and London are the top performers.

"Green jobs in energy, utilities and manufacturing sectors have a greater knock-on effect on employment, generating further jobs," said Ellis. "Likewise, regions including Northern Ireland and Wales may see a disproportionate rise in green energy and jobs, given their current reliance on carbon intensive fuels. 

"By acting now, we have a massive opportunity to rebalance the economy and ensure a fair transition.”

The research highlights workers’ fears about the impact of the net zero transition, with 5% expecting their job will disappear during the transition, which would equate to 1.7 million jobs. 

Read more: European stock markets rebound despite Omicron COVID variant fears

PwC’s analysis suggests this figure is likely higher than the eventual reality, as many jobs will be easily repurposed for a green economy, and will be easily surpassed by new green jobs — creating a net jobs gain. Some sectors will clearly be impacted by job loss more than others. 

The sectors with the biggest share of sunset jobs are electricity, gas, utilities and waste. The latter provides support and advisory services, which can be more easily transitioned to other sectors.

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