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Regional disparities already arising in nascent green jobs market

29 November, 2021

Scale and impact of employment stemming from net zero transition revealed in first-of-its kind research

The transformation to a net zero economy is feeding through to the employment market, accounting for 1.2% of total advertised jobs, equating to 124,600 new jobs, for the year to July 2021. However disparities are already arising in how the transition to greener jobs is affecting different parts of the UK.

These findings come from PwC’s Green Jobs Barometer launched today - a first of its kind analysis, tracking movements in green job creation, job loss, carbon intensity of employment, and worker sentiment across regions and sectors.

Currently the proportion of new green jobs is small, but each new green job generates a further 1.4 jobs (rising to 6 jobs for the energy sector), through increased demand for goods and services in the supply chain. This figure should also grow as the UK accelerates efforts to transition to net zero. Nevertheless, the scale-up will need to intensify to meet Government targets of two million green jobs by 2030.

Moreover, work is needed to ensure the green jobs transition doesn’t exacerbate regional inequalities. Yorkshire & the Humber, Northern Ireland and Wales are the lowest ranking regions across all aspects of the Green Jobs Barometer. Scotland and London are the top performers.

Kevin Ellis, Chairman and Senior Partner at PwC, said:

“Jobs are getting greener and this is cause for optimism, but evidence is needed on the level and distribution of these opportunities. Left unchecked, green employment will grow in the most fertile spots, but not necessarily where they’re needed most. Our research indicates where support and investment needs to be targeted. Green jobs in energy, utilities and manufacturing sectors have a greater knock-on effect on employment, generating further jobs. Likewise, regions including Northern Ireland and Wales may see a disproportionate rise in green energy and jobs, given their current reliance on carbon intensive fuels. By acting now, we have a massive opportunity to rebalance the economy and ensure a fair transition.”

The research highlights workers’ fears about the impact of the net zero transition, with 5% expecting their job will disappear during the transition, which would equate to 1.7 million jobs. PwC’s analysis suggests this figure is likely higher than the eventual reality, as many jobs will be easily repurposed for a green economy, and will be easily surpassed by new green jobs - creating a Net Jobs gain. Some sectors will clearly be impacted by job loss more than others. The sectors with the biggest share of sunset jobs are electricity, gas, utilities and waste. The latter provide support and advisory services, which can be more easily transitioned to other sectors.

Regionally, the largest relative impact of job loss will be felt in Scotland and the East Midlands, while the smallest relative impact will be felt in Northern Ireland (although it scores higher in other aspects of the Barometer).

Carl Sizer, Head of Regions and ESG at PwC, added:

“The impact of the net zero transition will be profound and there is a very real risk that people and communities could be left behind. The focus shouldn’t just be on the number of jobs at risk, but where they are concentrated, both in terms of industries and communities. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that a reduction in economic opportunity is not the legacy of the green transition. Green jobs must not become elite jobs. With targeted policies, investment, and training, and collaboration between government, business and education providers, a green future can be a future of employment for everyone.”


Notes to editors:

About the Green Jobs Barometer
The Green Jobs Barometer is an interactive, accessible, and timely data platform to provide insights that go to the heart of the economy’s preparedness for the transition and what that means for jobs and workplaces across the UK. It is based on analysis across five areas or ‘Pillars’ to measure the relative performance of UK sectors and regions.

The five Pillars of the Green Jobs Barometer

Definition of green jobs

We define green jobs as work in roles that seek to either produce / provide environmentally friendly products and services or adapt work processes to become more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. The definition acknowledges that other jobs that support the green economy indirectly should be considered green. This could include environmental advisors (e.g., in business consulting, law, and accounting) or experts in environmental / sustainability research and education.

To access the interactive Barometer tool, visit:

About PwC
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Sian Gentle

Manager, media relations, PwC United Kingdom

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