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Policy details for government’s green jobs ambitions lacking in ‘disappointing’ report response

The government has published its full response to the Environmental Audit Committee's Green Jobs report. Image: Getty

The government has published its full response to the Environmental Audit Committee's Green Jobs report. Image: Getty

Government departments “lack a central coordination function to deliver green jobs”, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has said following the publication of the government’s response to its Green Jobs report.

The Green Jobs report detailed a number of recommendations for the government to prepare the UK for the transition to net zero and ensure a skills gap doesn’t emerge in light of the government's ambitions of creating two million green jobs by 2030.

However, in its response to the report, the government has revealed that several departments that the EAC described as key are not to be included in the Green Jobs Delivery Group.

The group is designed to be a central forum through which government, industry and other key stakeholders work together to ensure that the UK has the workforce needed to deliver a green industrial revolution.

Areas the government said the group could look at include ensuring the UK has a skilled workforce for net zero, ensuring green jobs are open to all, developing better understanding and addressing barriers to recruitment, among others.

However, the EAC said it is concerned that ministers from HM Treasury and the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities are not to be included, with the EAC having now written to the government to query this and ask how the group will achieve its objectives to support green jobs in sectors across the economy.

Additionally, the government’s response showed that it doesn’t plan to embed environmental sustainability across all primary and secondary school courses and in A Levels. It stated that sustainability elements of apprenticeships and T-Levels will only be covered where occupationally relevant.

The Green Jobs report recommended that by the end of 2021 the government set out how it will measure progress towards its green jobs targets including its definition of green jobs and how it will measure the number, type and location of these over the 2020s.

While the government did not provide specific detail on this in its response, it said it is taking steps to embed processes within government to capture how it is supporting green jobs through government schemes, with this to be reported on periodically.

Additionally, it pointed to how the Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy survey, which has been measuring trends in low carbon and renewable energy since 2014 and is “the primary source of evidence on the low carbon economy”.

The ONS is to refine and develop the government’s understanding and measurement of the green economy as the UK transitions to net zero.

The Green Jobs report also recommended that the government’s own analysis into the Green Homes Grant voucher scheme be completed during 2021 to ensure lessons learned inform future schemes’ designs and include a plan for industry engagement to rebuild trust.

In its response, the government pointed to an independent evaluation being undertaken by Ipsos MORI, which is to be published in early 2022.

It also referenced the National Audit Office review of the scheme, which found it hadn’t delivered the expected number of installations, nor supported the expected number of jobs.

The government said evaluation findings are being shared internally, as well as lessons learned workshops being carried out, to inform future schemes’ designs, while industry engagement is being established via the Net Zero Buildings Council.

Other areas of the response included plans for the Department for Work and Pensions to consider how net zero and environmental goals can be incorporated into the design stages of future labour market interventions - a measure the EAC said it welcomes.

The government also confirmed it would report periodically on progress on embedding green jobs across government schemes, and overall “expressed its commitment to ensure the right skills and wider employment support are in place to support people into green jobs,” the EAC said.

EAC chairman, Philip Dunne MP, said this commitment is welcome, however the committee's concern detailed in its Green Jobs report that the government’s green jobs ambitions lacked policy detail has “sadly borne out in the response”, which he labelled as “disappointing”.

“This government’s current piecemeal approach to green jobs does not give the confidence boost to those industrial sectors that will require, and need to develop, the green skills of the future.”

The government's full response can be read here.

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