Major new report from the Local Government Association argues devolving skills development and investment could help put UK on track for net zero emissions and create a post-coronavirus jobs boom
The Local Government Association (LGA) has become the latest influential body to call on the government to prioritise climate action in its imminent recovery plan, setting out plans for a jobs guarantee programme that could help create over one million green jobs in the coming decades.
The group today published a new report, entitled Local green jobs - accelerating a sustainable economic recovery, which predicts the green jobs market is expected to grow rapidly as the UK works to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050. But it argues that concerted action to introduce a national skills programme and devolve funding to councils and combined authorities so they can work with businesses and education providers to train and retrain young people and older workers to address skills gaps could help fast-track the green jobs boom at a time when a major unemployment crisis looms.
Cllr Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the LGA's City Regions Board, said local authorities and councils had a critical role to play in tackling the green skills gap.
"Councils are driving the climate change agenda at a local level, through ambitious projects and targets, which is beginning to influence local economic growth plans and skills programmes," he said. "Demand for green jobs is due to sky-rocket as we move towards a net zero economy and local government, with its local knowledge and expertise, is best placed to ensure the workforce in every region of the country can successfully surf the new wave of employment opportunities."
However, he warned that local government needed to be given the authority and the funding to ensure skills shortages are quickly identified and tackled.
"Localising and devolving skills investment, back to work support and any job guarantee will be critical to ensuring everyone benefits from new local jobs, including these one million new low-carbon jobs," he said. "To help meet national climate change targets and capitalise on the green jobs revolution, councils need to be given long-term funding, devolved powers and easier access to complex government funding pots to help realise the Government's target of being carbon neutral by 2050."
The report predicts that the net zero transition will create hundreds of thousands right across the country and in multiple industries.
Nearly half of an estimated 693,628 total low-carbon jobs by 2030 will be in clean electricity generation and providing low-carbon heat for homes and businesses, such as manufacturing wind turbines, installing solar panels and installing heat pumps, while around a fifth will be involved in installing energy efficiency products, such as insulation, lighting and control systems.
Green professional services sectors, alternative fuel production, and low emission vehicle manufacturing and infrastructure are all also expected to become major employers.
Moreover, the report highlights how green jobs are set to become a major part of the economy for decades to come. It predicts that between 2030 and 2050, the low-carbon workforce in England could increase by a further 488,569, taking the total level of jobs to more than 1.18 million by 2050.
However, the report also warns that a failure to provide a trained and skilled workforce could undermine the UK's ability to meet its emissions targets.
"Soaring demand for green jobs will require a diverse range of skills and expertise to roll-out clean technologies," the LGA warns. "Emerging skills gaps requiring early intervention are the heat pump supply chain and professional services. Local areas need to be able match skills supply and demand through effective local targeting by giving councils and combined authorities the ability to work with local education providers and businesses to bridge gaps in NVQ-related skills so that the workforce is equipped to meet emerging demand."
The report comes just days after the West Midlands Combined Authority approved a wide ranging green recovery plan for the region, designed to accelerate energy efficiency upgrade programmes, electric vehicle infrastructure deployment, and green business support.
It also comes on the same day as a new study from the industry-backed Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group, which predicts a two-year £2.8bn domestic energy efficiency upgrade programme could create 50,000 jobs, while saving £7.5bn from national energy costs, equivalent to £270 per home per year.
It adds that such a programme would bring at least £3.5bn in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy each year and would deliver £1.25 of tax revenue for every £1 of public money invested, driving a total of £6.2 billion investment over the next two years in our homes, schools and hospitals.
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