New report from the Local Government Association argues skills development and investment could help put UK on track for net zero emissions while creating a post-coronavirus job boom.
The Local Government Association (LGA) joins a growing list of influential bodies calling on the government to include climate action into its COVID-19 recovery plan, setting out plans that have the potential to help create over one million green jobs by 2050.
LGA has 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.
It argues that to help fast-track green jobs during these uncertain times, concentrated action must occur to introduce national skills programmes and devolve funding to local authorities. This would allow people to work with businesses and education providers to train and retrain young people and pre-existing workers.
Cllr Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the LGA's City Regions Board, said: "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." "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", he said.
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 hundreds and even thousands of jobs will be created across the country and within multiple industries due to the net zero transition.
By 2030, nearly half of an estimated 693,628 low-carbon jobs 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. Around a fifth will be involved in installing energy efficiency products, such as insulation, lighting and control systems.
Moreover, the report 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."