The Growth of the Green Energy Sector in the UK

October 27, 2022 by Rob Slane

Green Energy in the UK

As demand for “green” or “renewable” energy has grown in prominence in recent years, so has the need to measure its size and impact on the labour market. This is however not an easy task: current industry and occupational classifications from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) do not allow for a clear cut definition of the green energy sector. The ONS itself tried to overcome this challenge in 2020 by surveying businesses and asking them to self-classify as related to one of 17 low-carbon and renewable energy related industries.

In this piece, we set ourselves the task of capturing and measuring the sector using our vast library of millions of job postings to identify titles that are clearly related to green energy. In total, we found 45 job titles - such as Solar Engineers, Wind Technicians, and Renewable Energy Analysts - and together they provide us with an approximation of the green energy sector, albeit with the caveat that there will inevitably be some job titles we haven’t captured, making the data below a somewhat conservative estimate of the sector (note: users of our Analyst data platform can find these 45 job titles grouped together in our Job Posting Analytics as Green: Renewable Energy).

How Has Demand for Green Energy Jobs Grown Over Time? 

We can begin by looking at job postings for these jobs over the last five years. As the chart below shows, demand was quite flat until mid-2020 – around the end of the first Lockdown – but has since really taken off. For context, job postings for these roles were 240% higher in the last 12 months than in the equivalent timeframe five years ago, and there are now between 1,500 to 2,000 online postings for these jobs per month. Interestingly, this trend appears to be very similar to what we discovered in a recent post looking at “Environmental Sustainability" in Australia, which you can read about here:

Which Regions Are Seeing the Highest Demand?

The next question we can look at is where this demand is highest. In terms of absolute numbers, Greater London has had the most job postings for these roles over the last 12 months, with over 1,300 unique postings, followed by Scotland with 956, and the South West with 804. A more interesting way of looking at this, however, is to identify the share of total job postings in an area that relate to green energy roles, as this tells us more about the relative importance of these jobs in area. The map below shows this, with Scotland coming out top with 0.11% of all its job postings over the past 12 months relating to green energy, followed by the South West (0.092%) and Greater London and West Midlands (both at 0.058%).

Top Occupations, Job Titles and Skills

In our final chart, we look more closely at the occupations, job titles and skills that are driving the green energy sector, and you can find data on each by clicking the appropriate button at the top left-hand side.

Beginning with occupations, although there is currently no official ONS definition of these, what we have done is to identify the occupations the 45 green energy job titles most closely relate to, in order to see where demand is highest. As you can see, almost 14% of all job postings over the last 12 months are for Managers and Proprietors in Other Services, followed by Electricians and Electrical Fitters (8.8%), and Engineering Professionals (7.9%). However, the biggest takeaway from this list is undoubtedly the sheer diversity of occupations, with very different roles such as Construction and Building Trades (7.9%); Science, Engineering and Production Technicians (4.8%); and Marketing and Sales Directors (3.3%) all having significant demand.

Looking at Job Titles, we can see that the top 10 is dominated by Renewable Energy Analysts, which accounts for almost 23% of all green energy jobs, with a number of other Renewable Energy titles also having high demand. The rest of list is made up of a number of solar and wind energy roles, such as Solar Pv Installers (14.1%); Solar Electricians (7.6%); and Wind Turbine Technicians (5.9%).

As for the specialised skills employers are looking for when hiring for green energy jobs, we can see a mix of very specific skills, such as Solar Energy Systems Installation (which appears in 4.5% of all green energy job postings); Wind Turbines (3.8%); and Solar Systems (3.4%); as well as some more generic ones such as Roofing (3.7%); Heating Systems (3.6%); and Boilers (2.9%). This hints at something we've highlighted many times before, which is that a person looking to broaden their employment options doesn't necessarily need to start from scratch, but can instead look to upskill by adding specific skills to their more general skills. By the same token, education providers and local economic developers can also benefit from knowing this kind of highly granular skills data, as it can help them better understand what type of upskilling and retraining is most needed in their area.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you identfy the labour market for Green Energy in your area.