World Youth Skills Day | preparing for the jobs of the future

Green jobs

How do we prepare the youth of today for the jobs of tomorrow? After 2022’s World Youth Skills Day, let’s explore what ‘green jobs’ will look like in the future and the opportunities young people have to develop the skills for these roles.

Friday 15 July was World Youth Skills Day, a day declared by the UN to highlight the importance of equipping young people with the skills they need for employment.

But are young people being taught skills that are relevant for the jobs of the future? The UK has set out policies to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy to meet net zero targets by 2050.

Immediate past president of Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM), Dr Adam Read, asked at the CIWM Resource Conference Cymru 2022: “What is a circular economy job?”

He answered: “All jobs. Because we’re all going to be circular.” Once this evolution is complete, will young people be equipped with the skills they need for these new jobs of the future?

Jobs of the future

Dr Adam Read also said at the CIWM Resource Conference Cymru 2022 that in the next five years, the skill set of 50 per cent of the population won’t be relevant after we transition to a circular economy.

Adam’s CIWM Presidential Report, Skills for the Future, states that over the next ten years, the waste and resource sector will have an increasingly important role to play as the UK seeks to improve resource availability and security and the need to supply quality secondary raw materials and feedstocks from a wide range of different waste streams increases.

Despite young people’s commitment to sustainability, the language of green jobs hasn’t caught on with them yet.

A greener future presents many unique and exciting career opportunities to the next generation of young professionals. However, are young people aware of the increasing demand for green skills?

WorldSkills UK is an independent charity that’s part of WorldSkills, which is a collaboration of over 80 countries that supports young people with their careers. It works with educational organisations, employers, and governments across the world.

A recent report, published by WorkSkills UK, says there is a lack of awareness on green jobs, as well as what qualifications are required to progress to these roles. There is a passion amongst young people to tackle climate change, however, the report argues they are unaware of how to realise their aspirations.

The report highlights a stark disconnect between increasing employer demand for green skills and young people’s lack of knowledge.

So, what were the key findings from the report?

WorldSkills UK green skills report

The majority of young people questioned are highly motivated by a desire to fight climate change and feel encouraged to pursue a career that will help the UK reach net-zero.

One of the key findings from the report was employers that require green skills, now or in the future, have had difficulty hiring the right candidates. This has led to green skill gaps negatively impacting employers ability to manage rising energy costs and meet net zero targets.

Most employers surveyed currently require green skills or expect to in the future.

Most of the young people surveyed said they feel inspired to pursue a career that can help the UK become net zero and they’re motivated by an aspiration to combat climate change.

However, the report says that young people, young women in particular, are not aware of the green pathways available in education, training, and careers.

The report shows that employers and the next generation of employees agree on one thing:  net zero is going to be a crucial part of future careers. Despite this, employers are unsure that the educational curriculum is helping young people develop the skills they need.

Following the key findings from the report, WorldSkills UK set out conclusions for the UK government. This included capitalising on the potential for marketing campaigns to inspire young people to pursue green careers by signposting the pathways available.

The report also says that DfE could remove barriers for young people that prevent them from gaining relevant skills for green jobs.


Like CIWM’s immediate past president said, in the future there won’t be such a thing as a green job; every job will be green.

If the future is net zero, then society, the economy, and people’s skills will evolve to match this new world.

However, currently, one of the biggest barriers preventing the next generation pursuing a green career is a lack of awareness. WorldSkills UK’s report that young people, particularly young women, are not aware of the opportunities available and the skills required for a green job.

After World Youth Skills Day, now is the perfect time to ask how we can help young people pursue a green career. Without an innovative, fresh, and talented workforce coming through, who is going to drive net zero and the transition to a circular economy?

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