PwC: Scotland’s renewable sector fuels surge in green employment

PwC: Scotland's renewable sector fuels surge in green employment

Jason Morris

Scotland is continuing to lead the way in the creation of green jobs, with the highest proportion of roles advertised compared with other areas of the UK.

According to PwC UK’s latest Green Jobs Barometer Scotland is one of only two nations or regions, alongside Northern Ireland, to have recorded an increase in the number of green jobs advertised this year – up by 7.6%.

As a result, green jobs as a proportion of all job adverts is significantly higher than the UK average (2.3%), at 4.04% – increasing from 3.3% in 2022.

First launched in November 2021, the Green Jobs Barometer tracks movements in green job creation, job loss, carbon intensity of employment, and worker sentiment across regions and sectors.

The latest iteration of the barometer finds that the number of green jobs advertised in the UK has fallen from the record levels recorded in 2022, but at a smaller rate than the decline seen in the UK’s job market overall.

PwC’s barometer highlights Scotland’s high concentrations of new renewable projects and the impact this is having on the demand for associated green roles created in the construction, scientific and technical and other support activities. For example, Scotland was the only region or nation to increase the number of green construction jobs advertised (up 10%), compared with last year, and one of only two to see increases in green professional, scientific and technical roles (a 32.5% increase).

However, despite having the highest proportion of green jobs, and an increased number of green jobs advertised, the total number (26,479) in Scotland still represents fewer roles than in London (45,219) and the South East (33,917).

And with several other regions across the UK faring worse than the national trend – with the number of green jobs advertised falling at a faster rate than the fall in all jobs advertised – there is a suggestion that the opportunities tied to the transition to net zero are increasingly concentrated in certain regions.

PwC: Scotland's renewable sector fuels surge in green employment

Table 1: Green jobs postings from Q3 2021 to Q2 2022, by region (credit: PwC)

The tendency for green jobs to be concentrated in traditionally ‘white collar’ roles requiring a higher level of education is especially true in Scotland and other regions seeing the strongest performance of green jobs – with almost 40% of green jobs advertised highlighting the need for a university degree or equivalent experience.

Jason Morris, Regional Market Leader for PwC Scotland, said: “Scotland’s continued ranking at the top of the Green Jobs Barometer is testament to the region’s position at the heart of energy transition in the UK. Being one of the only UK nations and regions reporting an increase in advertised green jobs cements this position - particularly given this growth comes against a backdrop of a challenging labour market.

“However, despite this continued growth and the comparative resilience of the green jobs market, there is no room for complacency. The role requirements to power the UK’s transition to net zero by 2050 – and in Scotland by 2045 – are significant and, in the face of a cooling labour market, do pose a challenge.

“Scotland is operating from a strong position, thanks to existing energy sector workers in the North East and the continued strengthening of our financial services sector - we must ensure that funding, as well as upskilling and reskilling, efforts are correctly targeted to fairly create and sustain opportunities for all across key sectors, in order to grow a thriving net zero economy for the future.”

Key sectors driving green jobs growth

While the prevalence of green jobs in Scotland is to be expected given its generally higher levels of employment in energy and utilities, the barometer highlights other key sectors driving the growth in green job opportunities across Scotland.

Relevant roles advertised within financial services and insurance demonstrate the highest increase in comparison with last year’s figures, the opportunities on offer up by 69.2%, while London saw a contraction in the volume of jobs in these areas.

Scotland was also the only region to report an increase in green job adverts in construction, compared with last year’s figures.

The region’s high levels of employment related to energy, utilities and other carbon-intensive sectors also exposes the region to greater risk of experiencing a higher than average proportion of sunset jobs, particularly in the North East. The barometer also showed that the total number of green roles advertised in Scotland’s energy sector has declined by 22.7% in comparison with 2022.

Jason Higgs, ESG Leader at PwC Scotland, said: “While areas of the UK which are historically synonymous with the scientific and technical sector are seeing a reduction in advertised green jobs, Scotland is seeing more demand for roles – potentially as a result of demand created by a high concentration of renewables projects. This is a demonstration of the green jobs multiplier effect in action.

“The growth of green job opportunities in financial services – whilst demand elsewhere contracts – is indicative of the drive to finance net zero transition, and a lean towards more specialist skills in green investment.

“We must continue to create accessible green job opportunities in emerging and strengthening sectors in Scotland, but there must also remain a focus on the retention and reskilling of workers in so-called ‘sunset jobs’ within carbon intensive sectors.”

Mr Higgs continued: “Our own previous findings suggest that as much as 90 percent of those employed in oil, gas and other sectors impacted by decarbonisation could be reskilled in order to take on jobs in areas such as renewables and other new energy technologies.

“There’s a real need for us to work across sectors to identify key areas for investment and create strategies to ensure we create the right conditions – and access to opportunity – to achieve our net zero goals.”

Commenting on PwC’s Green Jobs Barometer 2023, Minister for Small Business Richard Lochhead said: “This report shows that Scotland is leading the way in delivering a green jobs revolution and unlocking the tremendous potential that our energy transition and wider net zero journey holds.

“It is not just in energy where Scotland is leading the UK in creating green jobs. From financial services to construction to sciences, our world-renowned reputation for being an innovative, pioneering nation - coupled with our clear goal to seize the benefits of a net zero economy - is helping us lead the UK in creating good, green jobs.

“We will continue to work with businesses to build on this success, and make sure this and future generations have access to the reskilling and upskilling they need to take on the green jobs of the future.”

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