Green career paths for young people

Youth Employment Index

Youth Employment Index

The Youth Employment Index measures, benchmarks and monitors progress across countries in employing and training young people. This is key to identifying challenges and opportunities in specific sectors of the economy. This year, PwC worked in collaboration with Connectr to adopt a green lens, considering the opportunities green jobs present for young people and businesses. 

Youth Employment Index

Helping young people make the most of the green transition

Watch as our Chief Economist, Barret Kupelian and Junior Economist, Paige Tao highlight some of our key findings.


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The Netherlands, Switzerland and Iceland top our latest Youth Employment Index but this is at least a 20 year low in the OECD’s youth unemployment rate. The top countries found success through targeted policy interventions for younger people focusing on skills, including strong vocational training and efficient job placements, supported by coordinated actions by governments and businesses.

The UK ranks 22nd out of the 38 out of the OECD economies included in our Index. A key strength continues to remain the UK’s relatively high youth employment rate, however, there appears to be a growing problem of rising inactivity amongst young people driven by worsening mental health.

The global economy is going to be shaped by the green transition over the coming decades.The International Labour Organisation estimate that a net gain of 18m jobs could be created by 2030. Young people are passionate about green jobs - around 7 in 10 young people want to pursue a green career - but our research indicates they face continued barriers, including career pathway ambiguity, lack of green skills education and misinformation.

The UK continues to underperform relative to its peers in the proportion of young people that are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Our estimates suggest that UK GDP could be boosted by 1% p.a. - around £23bn p.a. - if it was able to reduce the NEET rate in all UK regions to match the level of the South West, the best performing region.


Key learnings

The UK ranks 22nd out of 38 countries in the OECD, dropping four places in the index ranking since last year. Overall, the UK has seen a stagnation in index score post-pandemic, largely driven by high proportions of young people employed in part time work, as well as significant levels of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).

The green transition is reshaping economies and jobs worldwide and in the UK and presents a significant opportunity to address youth employment, particularly through engaging NEET. We estimate that taking one young person out of NEET results in GDP benefits of £65,000, with roughly 900,000 NEET individuals between 16-24, the potential benefits of reducing this number through green jobs is substantial.

There are a number of existing pathways into both new, green jobs or traditionally greening jobs. These span apprenticeships, graduate schemes or reskilling schemes. There is a growing demand amongst young people for these opportunities driven by an alignment of green roles with personal values and the future-proof nature of these roles. There are also barriers for young people pursuing these careers, namely ambiguity around what green skills are in practice and how to gain these.


Our interviews with businesses highlighted that some businesses are already making progress with developing and offering green opportunities to young people. We find that the most advanced businesses in this space are those who are:

  • Proactively planning for the green transition more broadly

  • Establishing clear sustainability targets, including green jobs

  • Aligning their recruitment with the sustainability agenda

  • Reskilling existing staff alongside new hiring

  • Defining and measuring the extent of green and greening roles within their companies.

Long-term policy changes are vital to help bridge the gap between education, employers and young people. We identify five key policy areas:

  • Improving skills matching and profiling to address the skills gap

  • Increased strategic funding for higher education

  • Rebranding apprenticeships through apprenticeship levy reform

  • Equitable access to career guidance

  • Targeted and practical embedding of green skills into all stages of education

More than 72% of students aim to work for an employer aligned to sustainability, now is the time for employers to engage and support students, raising awareness, and preparing them for a green career. Green-job opportunities will open the doors to underrepresented and disadvantaged young people. Those employers that sit and wait, will become second-choice employers for our next generation.

Will Akerman, Founder and CEO, Connectr

Contact us

Barret Kupelian

Barret Kupelian

UK Chief Economist, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7711 562331

Gora Suri

Gora Suri

Senior Associate, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 407954

Jake Finney

Jake Finney

Manager, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 440369

Paige Tao

Paige Tao

Junior Economist, PwC United Kingdom

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