By May 2022, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, then headed by now-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, said 68,000 green jobs across the UK economy “have already been created and supported or are in the pipeline”.
However, data obtained by The Big Issue shows that nearly 6,000 of those jobs were counted from programs or projects that have already been abandoned, and many more are not expected to emerge until 2029.
“For the purposes of the 68,000 estimate, a ‘green’ job is defined as those covered by sectors outlined in the ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution,” the document said, but side notes showed one Conversation between employees asking for an agreed government definition of a “green workplace” and concluding that such a definition does not exist.
“We don’t have a consolidated definition of green jobs, nor an agreed definition,” read a note, adding that the Office for National Statistics “will move forward on this front.”
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TUC deputy general secretary Paul Nowak said: “The government’s claims are not credible unless green jobs are clearly defined. And it’s hard to believe that much progress is being made when the union- and employer-backed measures have been recommended by the government’s Green Jobs Taskforce and have barely been implemented.
“Britain could be a pioneering economy in terms of carbon-free steel, electric vehicles and floating offshore wind turbines. And we could create 300,000 jobs [home insulation] Retrofits so everyone can have a greener, warmer home with affordable energy bills. But we risk missing out on these opportunities and losing existing jobs to other countries that are more rapidly modernizing and decarbonizing their industries.
“Despite a year of inaction, the Green Jobs Taskforce’s recommendations remain a valuable program for creating and filling green jobs – it’s time for ministers to move forward.”
The government declined to comment.
On the jobs front, BEIS counted 4,900 jobs created through the Green Homes Grant Voucher program, a green home upgrade program that was scrapped in 2021 after just six months and branded a “slam dunk fail” by the Public Accounts Committee became underperforming in upgrades and job creation.
While it’s not clear how many of those jobs still exist, reports after the program’s completion in 2021 suggest thousands of jobs will have been lost as a result.
The data also showed that at least 750 rolls, counted in the 68,000 tally, will not materialize as a proposed wind turbine manufacturing facility on Teesside is closed.
Mike Childs, Science, Policy and Research Director at Friends of the Earth, said: “To say the government is reluctant to promote long-term, sustainable jobs that improve our planet is probably too generous. There has never been a more urgent need to modernize and insulate UK homes and replace outdated gas boilers with environmentally friendly heat pumps. Nevertheless, there is a real shortage of skilled workers in these sectors and there is a lack of long-term financing.
“While we absolutely need to see ambition in things like expanding offshore wind power, impressive sounding targets will not do without adequate funding for higher education and apprenticeships, including better access to education for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The economy of the future will and must be green, but it won’t magically appear. It needs a government willing to put green jobs at the heart of its growth plans.”
Thousands of jobs counted as “already in the pipeline” by the ministry will not materialize until at least 2029/30 when the government is to meet its goal of supporting 2 million green jobs.
At least 900 positions included in the response were jobs that were “saved” rather than created, a Big Issue analysis found.
BEIS did not provide a breakdown of how many of the 68,000 jobs were being created versus those already existing, but did explain where jobs in the offshore wind sector were “created or safeguarded”.
This showed that of the 4,100 offshore wind jobs outlined by BEIS, 750 are no longer going ahead because a project was shelved, while 400 were delayed after a contractor withdrew support for a project.