Urgent action needed on green skills if the UK is to reach net zero by 2050
Business in the Community (BITC), The Prince’s Responsible Business Network, has today published a routemap to help businesses ensure that they have the green skills needed to allow them to succeed as world leaders doubling down on climate action. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report has reiterated that urgent action is needed, with the United Nations calling on developed countries to achieve net zero by 2040 as a result. 
BITC’s routemap, Building Green Skills for a Just Transition to a net zero, resilient future, aims to help employers start or accelerate the work that needs to be done to ensure that the UK has the right skills to achieve net zero and climate resilience as quickly as possible.
The routemap follows BITC research that found only one in 10 people think their jobs will be adversely affected or that they will need significant new skills because of the transition to a net zero.  The research also found that of those who do think their job will be affected, eight out of 10 did not think their employer was doing enough or didn’t know what their employer was doing to help them upskill for the future.
Studies from National Grid and PwC show hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be needed in the energy sector.  However, all sectors will also need to invest in green skills with research showing that without action to address skills, no sector will achieve net zero by 2050. 
There are many steps that businesses can take now to ensure that they are preparing for the skills of the future, including:
- Understanding the risks and opportunities that the climate crisis presents for businesses.
- Considering the groups impacted by the roll-out of green skills including, the current and future workforce and especially those workers who are most at risk from the transition to a green economy.
- Focusing on these areas to help a green skills strategy:
- Lead: equip leaders to empower everyone to act
- Embed: make climate action everyone’s business
- Include: enable upskilling for all
Gudrun Cartwright, Climate Action Director at Business in the Community, said:
“Evidence has shown time and time again that the way we currently live is going to have to change if we want to save the planet. One of the biggest changes needed to combat climate change is to revolutionise the way we work so businesses do not unintentionally continue to add to the already serious threat of the climate emergency. To do this, business leaders must look across their whole organisation and scope out where change is needed to ensure that they are playing their part in our collective responsibility to reach net zero by 2050. While skills are only one part of the solution, they are extremely important, and we hope that all businesses use our routemap to make decisions today that will benefit us all in the future.”
Anne Marie Verstraeten, Vice Chair, BNP Paribas UK, said:
“While we would all accept the need to change to address the climate crisis, for many it is not clear what this means for them as individuals. This valuable work adds to the toolkit that we should have to help transition our economies to true sustainability. It also acts as a reminder to business leaders that our people look to us to help them evolve and acquire the new skills that will make the transition a success.
“It has been a pleasure to support BITC in this work and to contribute to the growing awareness of what’s practically required to make the transition to sustainable business models a reality.”
Notes to editor
- Read Business in the Community’s Building Green Skills for a Just Transition to a net zero, resilient future routemap here.
- AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023
- This research was conducted by YouGov in 2021 and captured the views of over 8,000 people in the UK.
- Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce, National Grid Group and Green skills as an enabler of UK retrofit, PwC.
- Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) 2021. SBTI Corporate Net Zero Standard.
For further information, please contact Aoife Butler Nolan, Head of Media, Public Affairs and Policy, on 07702 903 216.