Skills for net-zero in Lancashire

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The Government has committed to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This will require a transformative shift in our economy, with significant impacts on the make-up and viability of specific sectors, the jobs available and the critical skills employers require.

The scale and pace of transformation will vary across the UK. The Work Foundation has worked with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership to understand the distinct skills needs of the emergent low carbon sector in the county, and the wider insights this generates for employers and decision makers in other areas across the country.

Due to its industrial heritage, Lancashire is well placed to make a substantial contribution to the net-zero agenda. Yet in order to reach their full potential, local businesses must be able to call upon a workforce equipped with the critical skills needed.

This research found that low carbon businesses across Lancashire are struggling to recruit for the skills they need, and this is holding the sector back from achieving its full potential.

Key findings:

  • 47% of businesses surveyed find it difficult to recruit staff with the skills they need
  • Almost a third (32%) find it hard to recruit for specialist skills
  • Skilled trades including mechanics, electricians and plumbers are difficult to source
  • These skills gaps are increasing staff workloads, delaying the development of new products and services and increasing operating costs
  • To mitigate recruitment challenges, many low carbon businesses are undertaking intensive in-house training:
  • 81% of all businesses surveyed stated that they are delivering their own training in-house. The briefing sets out a number of recommendations aimed at addressing skills shortages in the sector so that low carbon businesses are able to draw upon the skilled workforces that they need.
  • Only 36% of businesses surveyed engage with schools/colleges to provide career activities for children

The briefing sets out a number of recommendations aimed at addressing skills shortages in the sector so that low carbon businesses are able to draw upon the skilled workforces that they need.


  • Sector bodies should survey their members on their skills needs, and use this insight to identify appropriate routes to engaging employers within the skills system, such as Local Skills Improvement Plans.
  • Low carbon and energy sector employers need to develop employment offers based on strong terms and conditions and inclusive clear career pathways to increase the appeal of low carbon jobs and attract under-represented groups.
  • Employers should create entry level opportunities within the low carbon sector as stepping stones to apprenticeships to attract younger workers. To support this, the Department for Work and Pensions should ensure that job centres and employment support providers are positioned to work closely with low carbon businesses in their area to encourage take-up of entry level opportunities.
  • Workers in high carbon sectors should be supported to retrain for roles within the low carbon sector. The Green Jobs Taskforce is expected to lead on this activity, and it should establish a working group inclusive of public sector and industry representative bodies tasked with the production of detailed plans to facilitate sectoral transitioning.

Download the full report here

Watch the recording of our event discussing this research

Building on recent joint Work Foundation and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership research this event explored how the skills system can equip low carbon businesses to grow and contribute to the county meeting its net zero ambitions.

Questions discussed during the event, were;

  • Which are the critical skills gaps that need to be addressed in order for net zero ambitions to be achieved in Lancashire?
  • How can we introduce carbon literacy into the skills system?
  • How can we ensure green jobs are attractive to young people?
  • How can we build on the Government’s planned reforms to the skills systems to ensure that skills for green jobs are prioritised?


  • Ben Harrison (chair), Director, the Work Foundation
  • Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, Director of the Lancashire Skills Hub (part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership)
  • Jessica Davies, Professor of Sustainability and Director of the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, Lancaster University
  • Trinley Walker, Policy Advisor, the Work Foundation
  • Vicki Nixon, Training Manager, Westinghouse Springfields Fuels Ltd
  • Sam Alvis, Head of Green Renewal at Green Alliance

This webinar can be viewed in full here

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