National Grid: 400,000 energy workers needed to hit zero emissions targets

28 January 2020, 02:08 | Updated: 28 January 2020, 03:57

A mass recruitment drive involving hundreds of thousands of people is needed by the energy sector if the UK's 2050 target for zero net emissions is to be met, a new report claims.

The National Grid says 400,000 skilled tradespeople, engineers and other specialists are required across the industry, with at least 117,000 of them needed in the next 10 years.

However the report says the sector is facing stiff competition for staff from other areas such as tech and finance, while a looming retirement crunch and not enough young people choosing to study science, technology, engineering and maths, are making matters worse.

Those who are attracted into the industry will be needed to deliver projects such as offshore wind farms, technology to capture and store carbon emissions and enabling the grid to cope with more electric vehicles and heating.

Staff are needed for projects such as the London Power Tunnels, where National Grid has spent nearly £1bn upgrading the high voltage cable network that runs round the north of the capital.

Nicola Shaw, executive director of National Grid, said: "Our research shows that to deliver net zero, the energy industry needs to recruit hundreds of thousands of people over the next 30 years - and that really is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the wider impact of net zero across other industries.

"The time is now for the sector to rise to the challenge and overcome the long-standing issues we face in recruiting a diverse workforce with the right skills to deliver on the UK's ambitions."

The National Grid report coincides with a YouGov poll which suggests that the majority of people want a job with an environmental purpose.

It found that more than half (57%) of people are interested in working for an organisation helping to deliver on the goal of zero emissions, with 78% of those questioned saying the should personally play a role in achieving the target.