Older workers can fill skills gap opened up by green revolution

Older workers are being ­encouraged to apply for jobs that will help boost the green revolution.

It is thought up to 725,000 new positions could be created by 2030 in low-carbon sectors such as building retrofits, renewable energy generation and the manufacture of electric vehicles.

Millions over 50 have left work because of illness or early retirement. But many skilled workers could easily retrain to fill the labour gap in green industries.

Jack Richardson, head of energy and climate at think tank Onward, said: “We have a massive skills gap to fill on green jobs.

“We need more sparkies, plumbers, builders and mechanics to create this new industrial revolution. We need to keep our skilled older workers with decades of experience in the game and train thousands of new ones.”

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Emma Bohan, general manager of IMS Heat Pumps, said she has hired people aged over 65 as well as younger apprentices to design or install ground and air-source heat pumps.

She said: “People shouldn’t be afraid to make the jump into the industry because it’s not going anywhere. It’s only growing and it’s going to need all hands on deck to deliver on the net-zero agenda.”

David Cowdrey, director of external affairs at the MCS Charitable Foundation, said more skilled workers were needed to install renewable energy in millions of homes to meet growing demand.

He added: “If we are to achieve the government target of installing 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028, we’ll need existing gas engineers, plumbers and electricians to retrain as low-carbon heating experts.

“The Government needs to prioritise training programmes so that gas engineers and others can make the most of the opportunities in the growing heat pump market.”

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Leah Robson, managing director of green equipment firm Your Energy Your Way, said: “Most people becoming heat pump fitters at the moment are gas engineers who are reskilling.

“This transition isn’t without its challenges, but it is slowly happening. The biggest challenge is giving both classroom and on-the-job, hands-on training to people wanting to retrain into the industry.” The Climate Change Committee said this week that there was potential for the net- zero transition to create more jobs than will be lost.

Up to 230,000 construction jobs could be created across the UK in order to retrofit and insulate the UK housing stock, estimates have ­suggested. At the same time, economic inactivity, which refers to people who are not working and not actively looking for work, is above pre-pandemic levels in the UK.

Around 3.5 million over-50s are out of the job market because of illness and early retirement, figures suggested.

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