UK Workforce Surveys Highlight Skills and Policy Barriers to Energy Transition
Posted 29/08/2023 13:17
Recent surveys conducted among the UK workforce have identified critical challenges including skill shortages, policy constraints, and concerns about sustainability as significant barriers to achieving the nation's net-zero goals.
A survey conducted by the trade union Prospect revealed that over a third of workers reported that tasks requiring specialist skills were being assigned to untrained personnel due to a lack of expertise, with notable deficits observed in the environmental sector. Government policies were cited by 37% of respondents as the primary obstacle to achieving net-zero emissions, alongside economic factors, resistance to change, and limited resources. The survey also underscored low pay as a major hindrance to attracting skilled individuals.
Another survey conducted by Save Money Cut Carbon (SMCC), a sustainability-focused company, found that nearly 19% of UK employees would actively refuse job applications to companies that lack genuine sustainability efforts. Approximately 14% of respondents noted that the survival of their businesses was endangered due to inadequate government support for energy bills. Moreover, 22% stated that they would exclusively support businesses that prioritize sustainability in their operations.
These findings align with the warnings presented by KPMG, an accountancy firm, which earlier this year emphasized that a shortage of skilled workers in both the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors poses a significant threat to businesses. According to KPMG's report, confidence among respondents in finding suitable oil and gas skills declined from 55% in April 2022 to 30% this year.
The challenges of locating appropriate skill sets could be particularly pronounced in emerging areas like hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS).
Mark Sait, CEO and founder of SMCC, stressed the importance of understanding the generational shift toward roles that prioritize environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. He commented, "Working at a company without a meaningful plan to reduce its environmental impact is simply a no-go for many job seekers. For employees, frustration at their own organisation’s lack of development is leading to a new phenomenon: climate quitting."
As the urgency of the climate crisis intensifies, businesses are urged to address the root causes of these challenges in order to cultivate a skilled and motivated workforce that can effectively contribute to the country's net-zero aspirations.