Green and clean sectors could fuel 15,000 jobs for next generation

Anna Smee, CEO, Youth Futures Foundation

Research released last week suggests ambitious job creation targets in the green and clean sectors could transform prospects for young people but notes that employers must look at flexible working and evidenced based training.

The new report, “A Better Future: Transforming jobs and skills for young people post-pandemic”, notes that regional disparities coupled with a shrinking youth labour market and an unequal recovery could result in young people being ill-equipped to meet the future demands of the labour market, compounding the skills shortages employers are currently facing.

Th research commissioned from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) on behalf of Youth Futures Foundation and the Blagrave Trust, warns of generational progress grinding to a halt in the UK, with the wage gap between older and younger workers widening since the 2008 financial crisis, and youth employment falling by a quarter of a million since the start of the pandemic.

The pandemic has also seen a large growth in student numbers, with youth participation in full-time education now at its highest rate on record – with 260,000 more young people in education and not looking for work than pre crisis levels. These large falls in the labour market are a key driver in the current difficulties that employers are having in filling entry-level jobs, especially where those roles are not being advertised flexibly (for example in ways that can fit around studies).

Despite figures showing that young people are over-represented in sectors that are expected to see lower employment growth in the long term, researchers identified that the shift to green jobs through government investment in its Levelling Up and Net Zero strategies could create an additional 130,000 jobs for young people, many in the crucial, mid-skill job spectrum which has been declining.

In all regions, youth employment under this trajectory grows by between 4-5 per cent, which for the North would equate to approximately 19,000 jobs in the North West and 15,000 jobs in Yorkshire and the Humber.

The report identified that there are opportunities for young people to transition from existing jobs to green roles but also warned that unprecedented numbers of young people staying on in education and fewer jobs available for them each year, meant that skills provision must be more closely matched with local labour market need, with local areas given more powers to design and shape local provision.

As a result it set out eight key recommendations for government to future proof young people’s jobs and skills:

  1. Government should aim to create new ‘green and clean’ job opportunities for young people through its ‘Levelling Up’ and ‘Net Zero Transition’ investments
  2. Government and its partners should use these investments to massively scale up apprenticeships and establish skills pipelines for disadvantaged young people
  3. Government should extend and reform Kickstart, with a new ‘Kickstart Plus’ creating opportunities for long-term unemployed and disadvantaged young people to get into work
  4. A meaningful ‘Opportunity Guarantee’ should be put in place to ensure that no young person reaches long-term unemployment
  5. Government should establish new local youth employment and skills boards as part of the new Levelling Up strategy
  6. Introduce a commitment to new trailblazers of ‘Universal Youth Support’ to test more extensive devolution and integration
  7. Introduce new labour market regulations to raise job quality by publishing the postponed Employment Bill
  8. Promote new forms of non-work income to bolster security for young people, for example through lifelong learning accounts or a Citizen’s Wealth Fund

Anna Smee, CEO, Youth Futures Foundation, said: “Young people from marginalised backgrounds should be able to secure good quality jobs in their local area, wherever they live. Targeted investment into Levelling Up and Net Zero jobs, coupled with access to flexible working and the adoption of evidence-based approaches to training, recruitment and retention, could make this a reality for the next generation.”