Ambitious promises of a “green jobs bonanza” are at risk of falling flat amid inconsistent Government policy and a gap in necessary skills, MPs have warned.

In a report out today, the cross-party Environmental Audit Committee expressed its disappointment that despite announcements committing millions of pounds to green jobs initiatives, the Government has yet to define what a “green job” is. The 16-member committee noted that last week’s launch of the UK’s Net Zero Strategy, which claims to support up to 440,000 jobs by 2030, would have been “the ideal time” to provide clarity on this.

During its inquiry, the committee heard that climate change and sustainability are in danger of becoming a “tick box exercise” in education. It is recommending that environmental sustainability be embedded across all national curriculum and apprenticeship courses.

Members also highlighted the risk that certain groups of people could miss out on new job opportunities. Currently only 9 per cent of engineers are women, and just 3.1% of environmental professionals identify as ethnic minorities.

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“While the Government’s commitment to increase diversity and inclusion in the green workforce is welcome, the sentiment is not enough,” MPs said in their report. “The Government must set out its aims in a measurable way and have a metric for measuring diversity and inclusion.”

Despite assertions that net zero is embedded across Government, the committee noted that employment schemes such as Kickstart and Restart have not embraced this. Notwithstanding the promise of “shovel ready” jobs such as cycling infrastructure, nature restoration and energy installation, only 1% of Kickstart placements are in green sectors.

Committee chairman Philip Dunne said monitoring the sectors and regions where jobs are needed is “critical” to meeting environmental goals. Equally important is the need to reboot careers advice in a way that “demystifies” green jobs.

“From renewable energy clusters in the north-east and Scotland, to engineering powerhouses in the Midlands and nature conservation in the south-west, we are building an economy set for net zero,” he said.

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“But the workforce of the future is being undermined by a lack of evidence-based Government policies on how jobs will be filled in green sectors. Encouraging announcements of investment in green sectors of the economy are very welcome but the Government admits that claims about green jobs lack explanation and data on how targets will be achieved.”

Those sentiments are echoed by John David, the head of Rathbone Greenbank Investments, whose new research out today estimates that the UK could gain an additional 236,000 jobs by 2050 as a result of new and expanding low carbon industries. This includes a net change of an additional 15,900 jobs by 2025, rising to 120,100 by 2030 and 236,000 by 2050.

Driving this will be an estimated 254,000 jobs in the low carbon electricity and energy sector, with 167,000 in the development and operation of transport infrastructure and low carbon vehicles. However, there will be a corresponding loss of 338,000 jobs in CO2-intensive industries as a result of the transition to net zero.

Greenbank – the ethical investment arm of Rathbone Brothers – also cautioned that not all local areas across the UK will enjoy success to the same extent, or at the same time. With oil and gas sustaining an estimated 100,000 jobs in this country, Scotland will be hit particularly hard in the short-term.

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“As well as being vital to building a more sustainable future for us all, the transition to net zero offers the prospect of bolstering the UK jobs landscape,” Mr David said.

“However, with around seven million direct jobs found in UK industries that account for a high proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, we cannot ignore the social impact of the transition, which is why we have commissioned this new research.”

Greenbank estimates that by 2025, three areas of the UK will experience a net decline in the number of jobs, with Scotland recording the biggest drop of 3,800. This will be followed by London with the loss of 2,800 jobs, and a decline of 1,600 in Wales.

However, the investment manager added that all regions should experience a positive net change in job growth by 2030.