Energy transition will be constrained by green skills gap of c.200,000 workers - PwC Green Jobs Barometer

08 Aug 2022

  • Increases in renewable and  low carbon energy generation will be constrained by a significant shortage of skilled labour which cannot be addressed from the existing UK energy sector workforce alone 
  • Despite fears that net zero will drive job losses across energy sectors, PwC’s research shows net job loss will be minimal -  energy workers have the right skills for green jobs but issues including the proportion retiring will create a shortfall to meet the expected demand
  • A fresh pipeline of approximately 200,000 people will need training for green energy jobs to keep the energy transition on track

New PwC analysis reveals a significant green energy skills gap of around 200,000 workers is emerging that must be addressed if the UK is to deliver on long term energy security and meet its energy transition targets.

The Energy Transition and Jobs - a research paper that builds on PwC’s Green Jobs Barometer - notes a 270,000 pool of transferable skilled workers  from the existing oil and gas sector. But of this, around 20% are expected to retire by 2030, leaving only 216,000 transferable workers to help plug the 400,0001 jobs needed to build the net zero energy workforce across adjacent areas such as nuclear, hydrogen and renewables. It also suggests that increases in renewable energy generation will be constrained by this significant shortage of skilled labour.

The implication is an urgent need for policy makers and the energy industry to work together to promote re/upskilling of the workforce and encourage a fresh pipeline of talent or risk the successful transition to net zero by 2050. According to the research, demand is already building with a 3.5% increase from 21.1% to 24.6% in green job adverts across the electricity and gas sectors between 2020 and 2021. 

Vicky Parker, Power and Utilities leader at PwC, said: 

“To support the delivery of net zero, the UK is facing a continuous rise in the demand for electricity which must be met by a huge increase in low carbon energy generation and a more efficient whole system approach to balance both supply and demand. Demand for new skills and capabilities will only accelerate so it’s vital we attract and build a diverse pipeline of talent.

“Government and industry must work together to develop these new skills and capabilities at scale while encouraging diversity and reflecting regional requirements. Meeting such a challenge needs to start at school age, continuing through university programmes, apprenticeships and beyond.  However, all this must be underpinned by confidence around long-term job security and stability to attract and retain the necessary talent.”

On a positive note, the research suggests that job loss caused by the demise of carbon intensive industries will be far less than feared.  This is due to in-sector skills demand for additional jobs in offshore wind (41,000 by 2026) and nuclear (40,000 by 2030) combined with high transferability of skills in the energy sector. As much as 90% of roles in the sector are transferable, meaning that net job losses are set to be minimal and may not be realised until after 2030.

Carl Sizer, management board member and head of regions at PwC, commented

“While the shift to green energy is as significant as the industrial revolution, job loss should be far less this time round.  Rather than face an abrupt cliff edge, workers will see their roles become greener over time, many should be able to stay in the same company, while others will reach retirement age.

“The big challenge will be finding additional workers outside the energy sector to build the clean energy labourforce needed for net zero. The opportunity is to create highly skilled jobs in locations that may currently lack these.”

The research, which includes consultation with key UK energy sector stakeholders across oil & gas, renewables and nuclear power, also highlights challenges for workforce gender and ethnic diversity.  Given that women and ethnic minorities are traditionally underrepresented in the energy industry, there is a risk that this trend continues and could even become more pronounced as the sector expands. 

Dr Eduardo Rodriguez Monemayor, PwC’s Labour Market Economist and co-author of the research, said:

“To secure the significant volume of workers needed to fuel the energy transition, the sector will need to draw from a more diverse pool of people. Historically, very few energy industry roles have been held by women or ethnic minorities and this needs to change.

“To attract more people into green energy jobs a range of interventions should be considered including  ‘green’ apprenticeship programmes and technical green career pathways.

“If action to address this isn’t taken now, the UK is at risk of falling behind its roadmap to reach net zero and combat climate change, something that is front of mind given current energy prices, supply chain challenges and record breaking temperatures.” 



  1. National Grid 2020 - Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce


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