How the Green Economy Is Impacting Engineering in the UK

Published on Jun 8, 2023

Updated on Aug 25, 2023

Written by Mariana Marques

As the economy turns greener - so do job postings. With the UK’s ambitious plans to achieve net zero by 2050, a green economy is on the horizon, and we are already seeing its impacts on the rise of green jobs and the growing demand for green skills across occupations. 

Engineers have an important role to play in building a more sustainable future for our planet, as these occupations is closely related to key areas of investment for greener economies, such as renewable energy, sustainability design and decarbonisation. This article explores how green trends are impacting engineering job titles and skills.

You can also check the full report, “Engineering skills needs- now and into the future,” commissioned by EngineeringUK and produced by our Head of Global Research, Elena Magrini, and our Economic Analyst, Jeff Dwan-O’Reilly. The Lightcast team works with various professional bodies to deliver tailored research projects and develop insightful reports which can be sector or occupation-specific - such as this one. 

Defining ‘green’

Because there is no official definition of ‘green’ in the context of the labour market, we put together our own Lightcast taxonomy, which includes almost 230 unique ‘green skills’ and over 370 ‘green job titles’. These were put together based on their  connection to green keywords and activities such as sustainability, environmental protection and decarbonisation. 

The growth of green engineering jobs

As science and technology evolve, so do engineering occupations. Add the influence of other global trends to it, such as the increasing investment in green activities, and you can really see these occupations changing. The frequency of engineering job postings with green-related job titles has gone up by 55% in the last five years, and currently holds record levels. 

Looking within the broad group of engineering occupations, ‘environment, energy and earth’ is the engineering category with the highest share of green job postings in the UK - a notable 33%. It is followed by ‘other engineering’, which accounts for 26% of all green job postings in the UK, and includes newer engineering disciplines such as Environmental Engineers, Renewable Energy Engineers and Wind Turbine Technicians.  

Among the myriad of green engineering roles available, Environmental Engineers, Environmental Consultants and Environmental Advisors are the most popular advertised roles. They account for 7.1%, 6% and 5.2% of all green job titles respectively. This suggests that companies across sectors are aiming to become greener and investing into more strategic and advisory roles within sustainability. 

Not only are traditional engineering roles becoming greener, but new green jobs are emerging. While most green jobs are growing strongly, the share of some of the largest roles is actually declining, giving space to more emerging roles. In the graph below, we can see how the top 15 job titles have changed between 2016/2017 and 2021/2022. The most noticeable growth has been in renewable energy, particularly the solar energy field, which include job titles such as Renewable Energy Engineers, Solar Pv Installers, and Solar Electricians. 

Top 15 green jobs and change over time

Another key area of growth for green engineering is carbon measurement and sustainability management. Carbon Analyst is the fastest growing job title - with a staggering growth of 930% between 2016/2017 and 2021/2022. One major reason for this is companies’ increasing efforts to measure and reduce their carbon footprint in line with Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) regulations. 

Engineering Jobs and Skills in the UK: What Is Needed?

Read the Full Article

Green skills in engineering 

So engineering roles are becoming greener by the minute, but what about green skills required for these occupations? The number of these engineering job postings requesting green skills has increased by 48% over the last five years. 

The clear winner as the most in-demand green skill for engineering is environment health and safety (EHS), which appears in over 1.4% of all UK job postings, and in 25% of those requiring green skills. EHS guidelines are applicable to every industry and therefore much more general than other skills. Plus, as businesses strive to become eco-friendly, knowledge of such standards becomes imperative.

Some of the most in-demand green skills include water and waste management, and knowledge of environmental law and regulations, such as ISO 14000. While these are the most popular as of late 2022, they aren’t the fastest-growing. Skills such as carbon footprint reduction, electric vehicles, and grid connections have seen the highest increase in popularity in the last five years. 

Fastest growing green skills

The future of engineering is green 

Analysing the exponential growth of both green job titles and skills within engineering, it’s easy to conclude that the future is green for these occupations. Plus, as the UK government and businesses continue to invest in eco-friendly technologies and practices, the multitude of such jobs and skills will only expand. 

EngineeringUK, a non-for-profit organisation that promotes the engineering and technology fields and their contributions, trusted the Lightcast team with this extensive report exploring the ins and outs of the engineering occupation. If you are looking to understand specific labour market trends in your field or region or want to solve your organisation’s talent challenges, our team can help. Reach out to us to discuss your needs. 

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