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New report highlights lack of understanding around green STEM jobs

A new report suggests the UK could be heading towards a net zero skills shortage.

The net zero workforce report by EngineeringUK is an analysis of almost 30 research reports from across the engineering sector. 

It looks at the green jobs and engineering skills needed to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy.

The report recommends that if the government is to deliver on its carbon reduction targets, it needs to get better at understanding the number of future green jobs and skills of people working in the sectors crucial to achieving the UK’s net zero commitments.

To have a workforce that’s ready to respond to the climate crisis, there needs to be people with the right engineering skills and other STEM backgrounds. 

The report highlights there is no ‘back-casting’ being guaranteed to understand whether we have the necessary numbers of young people acquiring STEM qualifications at secondary and tertiary education levels to tackle these challenges. 

For example, only one of the research papers included in this analysis mentioned STEM A-levels.

Mike Hardisty, head of environmental sustainability at EngineeringUK, said: “It’s clear that we could be sleep-walking towards a net zero engineering skills shortage without knowing how big the skills and educational gaps are and where they are. 

“We need to change that to ensure that the right policies are in place to address this. 

“The Unit for Future Skills would appear to be a good starting point to act as a hub to guide government on workforce issues like producing a regular national labour forecast.

He added: “To address the climate crisis, there are issues within our education system that need to be tackled. 

“For example, we need more young people to take STEM subjects at school and in further education, but we are lacking the teachers and the infrastructure to make this happen.

“More needs to be done to encourage and enable young people across the UK to take up STEM-based qualifications with a view to tackling the climate crisis.

“If we don’t have enough young people studying chemistry and physics now, for example, it could lead to a shortage of electrical and chemical engineers, which means we will not have the necessary skills in the future workforce.”

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