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A Net Zero workforce

1. Outline

Changes in the UK workforce will enable Net Zero. Workers will create new low-carbon markets and transform processes, products and supply chains from high-carbon to low-carbon. The shift to Net Zero is already underway, with the creation of around 250,000 new jobs in the transition so far, but policy is now required to maximise the employment benefit of Net Zero and manage the risks.

This brief provides an overview of the evidence on the potential impacts of Net Zero for the workforce to inform the Government’s Net Zero and Nature Workforce Action Plan that is due in early 2024.

2. Key messages

  • Net Zero will transform the economy but the majority of workers will not see major impacts. Only around a fifth of workers will see the largest impacts – those that are currently employed in sectors that will have a core role in delivering Net Zero, often in the next decade.
  • There is potential for the Net Zero transition to create more jobs than will be lost. Between 135,000 and 725,000 net new jobs could be created by 2030 in low-carbon sectors, such as buildings retrofit, renewable energy generation and the manufacture of electric vehicles.*
  • The transition provides a range of opportunities, from driving growth in areas with historically low employment to diversifying the workforce of core Net Zero sectors. It also comes with risks that will need to be managed to deliver a just transition, including an inadequate supply of skilled workers, and potentially disruptive impacts to some communities. The risks and opportunities are unique to each sector.
  • Government has policy levers at its disposal to support workers during the transition to Net Zero. It does not need to intervene in every sector of the economy, but clearer plans are needed to harness the potential of the transition and to manage its risks. A hands-off approach will not work.

*While the range for job creation we present is net job creation (so factors in potential job losses), the range of potential job losses we present are potential gross job losses. We show a wide range: there is much uncertainty in these estimates and there are different ways to calculate changes in job numbers.

3. Supporting information, charts and data