At a recent event hosted by Business in the Community (BITC), OVO Energy‘s Chief People Officer, Charlotte Eaton, emphasised the urgent need for a national initiative to address the green skills gap.

This call to action follows a report commissioned by OVO with Energy and Utility Skills, revealing that 362,000 workers will be required by 2035 to decarbonise homes and meet net zero targets.

New research from OVO highlights a significant gap in green skills development. Fewer than 1 in 10 people in the UK (7%) report receiving dedicated green skills training at work. Additionally, less than 1 in 3 (30%) are aware of the term ‘green skills’. This lack of training poses a threat to achieving the UK’s environmental goals.

Despite the training gap, there is a clear demand for green skills development among professionals. One in five (21%) employees have requested green skills training at work, and three in five (61%) believe that developing these skills would enhance their appeal to future employers.

Bridging the Green Skills Shortage

In response to the identified skills gap, OVO plans to upskill 15,000 green roles, including advisors, surveyors, and installers. This initiative aims to prepare the workforce for the installation of heat pumps, solar panels, and electric vehicle (EV) chargers across the UK. OVO’s comprehensive approach includes integrating future skills, education, and apprenticeship programmes to cultivate a greener workforce.

To further address the green skills shortage, OVO has proposed several policy recommendations to the government:

  • Enhancing Visibility of Green Roles: Integrate discussions on green careers into primary and secondary education through career fairs and conversations.
  • Improving Careers Advice: Provide specialised training for career advisors on green roles and entry routes into green professions.
  • Updating Recertification Assessments: Incorporate green requirements into existing assessments to ensure the workforce is equipped to install emerging technologies.
  • Regional Workforce Mapping: Identify and address regional skills shortages through partnerships with local education providers and businesses.
  • Aligning Qualifications with Industry Needs: Review and update the curriculum and assessment criteria to meet the demands of the green skills sector.

The Role of Green Skills in Achieving Net Zero

A report commissioned by OVO and Energy and Utility Skills found that decarbonising homes alone will require an additional 362,000 workers by 2035. UK homes account for over a quarter of the nation’s carbon emissions, highlighting the urgent need for energy efficiency improvements. The required roles include EV charge point installers, heat pump engineers, and insulation specialists.

OVO’s Charlotte Eaton stressed the importance of a collective effort to support green skills and improve home energy efficiency across the UK. “People are at the centre of our mission at OVO, which is why we are committed to investing in our teams through learning and reskilling opportunities. Without significant investment in the green workforce, the UK risks losing its place as a world leader in net zero.”

Gudrun Cartwright, BITC’s Climate Action Director, highlighted the broader implications of green skills development. “Developing the skills needed to deliver a just transition to a net zero, resilient future is critical for every business. While most people think of the technical skills needed to retrofit buildings, install renewable energy, or service electric vehicles, BITC’s work with businesses has identified that these skills are just the tip of the iceberg.”

Cartwright also called for a new approach to leadership that fosters a culture of adaptability and inclusivity. “There is a real need for business leaders to build the culture and capabilities to enable their current and future workforce to be flexible and better able to adapt to a changing world. Embracing essential skills for all, empowering changemakers with the authority to innovate, and opening doors to people who may have barriers to employment are key actions to ensure that this transformation is fair and inclusive.”