A transformation towards a greener economy in the UK will lead to significant changes across sectors and occupations, which could increase inequalities between individuals, industries and regions. The shift to ‘green growth’ will be a significant challenge for regions with a major concentration of ‘brown sector’ industries, and for individuals currently working in these industries, while regions with a major concentration of ‘green sector’ industries will flourish.

This report provides a thorough examination of the scale of the challenge in the UK regarding employment and adult learning, and offers guidance about the actions needed to achieve an efficient, inclusive and fair transition to a net-zero economy.

Key findings:

  • The transition to a net-zero economy is likely to have a significant impact on employment in the brown sector. Highly-polluting industries – responsible for 93 per cent of the UK's carbon emissions – such as mining transportation and manufacturing - employ 45 per cent of the UK’s workforce. Male, younger and lower-educated workers are overrepresented in this sector.
  • Employment in the environmental goods and services sector accounts for just 1.3 per cent of total employment in the UK. An increase in jobs related to environmental activities could lead to reduction of emissions and employment gains.
  • The shift to green growth requires significant investment and incentives for some regions in order to reduce the production of fossil fuels and make the switch to environment activities.
  • To prepare workers for the green economy, millions of people need to be reskilled and upskilled. The green industries are retraining about 21 per cent of employees compared to only 11 per cent in highly polluting industries.
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