Government’s vision of becoming net zero could lead to half a million new jobs says UK100

With the Government’s ambition of becoming net zero by 2050, the UK will need a ‘retrofit army’ of nearly half a million electricians, builders and plumbers, says the newly published research by UK100.

New research recently published by UK100 has suggested that over 400,000 jobs could be in demand to meet the government’s ambition of becoming net zero.  Net zero means carbon neutrality or having a net zero carbon footprint. It refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gases produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. To reach net zero, the amount added has to be no more than the amount taken away.

The construction industry has been one of the hardest hit in the pandemic, with 90% of construction businesses having applied for the furlough scheme, second only to the hospitality sector. The research published by UK100 (a cross-party taskforce of mayors and local government leaders) expects over half a million jobs will be in demand or created within the construction and property services as part of the Government’s ambition to become more green and shift to a green economy across different sectors. The required job roles include: surveyors and advisers, builders and insulation specialists, heating specialists, plumbers, roofers, carpenters, electricians and coordinators.

The UK Green Building Council has estimated that to achieve net zero carbon by 2050, almost all of the UK’s 29 million homes will need improvements, this means between now and 2050, 1.8 homes need to be retrofitted every minute. Homes are a key source of climate change and in 2018 accounted for 15% of emissions within the UK primarily from natural gas use for cooking and heating.

Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council and chair of the UK100 Resilient Recovery Task Force, said: “With the furlough scheme coming to an end, this country now faces both a climate and a jobs emergency—with both requiring urgent action.

“By investing in nearly half a million skilled and secure jobs as part of the Spending Review, the Chancellor could lay the foundation for a resilient and sustainable recovery across the country and ensure that we have the workforce we need to actually build back better and greener. Local authorities are ready to play our part in helping the country meet its legal Net Zero obligations. We will continue to lead the way, in partnership with businesses and the Government.”

Polly Billington, Director of UK100 stated: “From Essex to Edinburgh, the move to a greener economy will create thousands of new jobs. By unlocking private sector investment through a Net Zero Development Bank, we can reduce the taxpayer burden and ensure the money is spent prudently by disciplined allocators of capital.”

Welsh Government have launched the Optimised Retrofit Programme (OPR) as they play their part in aiming for net zero by testing a new approach to decarbonising Welsh homes. This programme will set the standard for retrofit schemes in Wales and has the potential to enable private homes to meet the 2050 decarbonisation target and deliver a green low carbon economy and create 15,000 new jobs in Wales over the next 10 years.

Although the UK100 jobs data is not time specific, a recent report by the New Economics Foundation which interviewed industry experts found that “a period of three to four years was thought to be required to train up the supply chain to full capacity.”

We at NPTC Group of Colleges have recognised that the built environment industry is changing and with it the training requirements for companies and students. Due to this, we have been involved with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) renewable energy skills forum for renewable energy, which has been looking at the skills needs of the country, and how best to ensure that quality standards in installation, design and maintenance are met, the College has been able to look to exciting partnerships, to develop training to be at the forefront of the delivery of these skills in Wales and beyond.

The College already has strong relationships with British Woodworking Federation (BWF), Supply Chain School which it chairs in Wales, and Fitout Interior Skills Federation (FIS), all with knowledge and intelligence to support the approach.  Recently the College became one of the consortium members of the Optimised Retrofit Programme, which has been substantially supported by Welsh Government as mentioned earlier.

We are proud to announce that two other organisations have now joined the Centre of Skills Excellence, to enhance and expand its training offer. These organisations are Elmhurst Energy and Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), which provides an expansive range of support and training, in decarbonisation training, retrofit, renewables and green build.

As the industry is changing, so are the essential skills and expertise needed. A part-time construction, building and engineering course could help you progress your current career, re-train and boost your chances of kick-starting a brand new career within the construction industry.

We have a variety of courses available including 18th Edition Electrical Wiring Regulations, Level 2 Certificate in Fundamental Inspection, Testing and Initial Verification, Cold Water Regulations, Level 2 & 3 Domestic Sprinkler, Plumbing for Beginners and also a Level 2 Certificate in Plumbing. These courses are accessible via the new Personal Learning Accounts (PLA) funding stream; these are available subject to eligibility. PLA courses are fully-subsidised courses through the Welsh Government.

For further information on available funding and professional training, please contact NPTC Group of Colleges’ Business Development Unit on