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Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce

Find out more about the Net Zero Energy Workforce Report, which explores the employment opportunities and skills required to help the UK’s energy sector reach net zero by 2050.

Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce Report

The UK is on a journey to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The energy sector plays a vital part in helping the country to make this transformational change, but to deliver on this ambition we need to build a Net Zero Energy Workforce*. We need people with the talent, the drive and the passion to help us tackle climate change.

Our Building the Net Zero Energy Workforce Report looks at what skills and expertise the energy sector will need to help the UK reach its emissions target. Working with independent research partner Development Economics and YouGov we discovered that our industry needs to recruit for 400,000 jobs between now and 2050 to get the UK to net zero.

400,000 new recruits needed for National Grid zero carbon workforce

These opportunities will open up around the country, and will require a diverse mix of skills, from scientists and engineers, to communications professionals and data specialists.

There’s a lot of work to be done to attract the brightest and the best people to help us transform the energy industry to deliver a greener, cleaner future. For us it's The Job That Can’t Wait.

* The roles included in this analysis are those involved in the operation, generation, transmission, distribution and retail of energy in the UK, as well as those inthe supply chain related to building, upgrading, maintaining or operating infrastructure required to reach net

 

The Net Zero Energy Workforce Report


Download the Net Zero Energy Workforce Report, which explores the employment opportunities and skills required to help the UK reach net zero by 2050.
 

Download the report

 

Building the Net Zero Workforce: an overview

Climate change is the defining challenge of this generation. The decisions we take now will influence the future of our planet and life on earth. We know what we have to do: change the way we live to curb harmful emissions and reach net zero by 2050.

To succeed, every industry, workplace and home will need clean energy. Transforming our national infrastructure so we can generate and distribute clean energy takes time – and the clock is ticking. The energy sector must lead the way and act now to set the UK on the right course.

This decade alone, the industry must:
  • increase low carbon electricity generation by c.50%, from sources such as wind or solar power
  • install low carbon heating systems in c.2.8 million homes
  • develop carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) technology, and develop hydrogen networks
  • install c.60,000 charging points to power c.11 million electric vehicles (EVs).

Viable technologies are emerging. The political commitment is there. Investment will be needed. But none of this will happen if we don’t have the right people, with the right skills to deliver. Motivated to tackle climate change, equipped with the skills to transform our energy grid – the UK needs a Net Zero Energy Workforce.

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The report sets out to understand how the energy sector can build a Net Zero Energy Workforce able to transform the UK’s energy system over the next 30 years.
The challenges we face include:
  • loss of existing talent due to a baby boomer retirement crunch
  • competition for skilled workers from other sectors,
  • such as finance and technology
  • limited pipeline of young people choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications
  • lack of gender diversity.

National Grid commissioned an independent research partner, Development Economics, to measure the scale of the challenge. This research found that the UK’s energy sector needs hundreds of thousands of people to fill 400,000 roles in the Net Zero Energy Workforce. Of this, 260,000 will be in new roles, while 140,000 will be replacing those who have left the workforce.

The 400,000 breaks down as:
  • 117,000 between 2020 – 2030
  • 152,000 between 2031 - 2040
  • 131,000 between 2041 - 2050.

Tens of thousands will be needed in every region across the UK, with significant employment opportunity in the North where nearly 100,000 jobs will become available, the Midlands (over 50,000 jobs) and the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (nearly 90,000 jobs). Net Zero Energy Workforce jobs will include civil, mechanical and electrical engineers, data analysts, machine learning experts and skilled tradespeople. New roles linked to electric vehicles, hydrogen, and carbon capture technology will emerge.

The good news is that people are increasingly motivated by a job with purpose, and the energy sector has a clear mission at its heart. Over three quarters of UK adults (78%) want to play a part in reaching the UK’s net zero goal and more than half (57%) want to work for an organisation that helps get us there. Tapping into this powerful motivator is key to building a diverse and effective Net Zero Energy Workforce.

National Grid believes everyone with a stake in the UK’s energy system must align behind strategic priorities that address the challenge, and collaborate to achieve them at scale.

To succeed we must:
  1. retain and retrain existing employees
  2. reframe a job in the energy sector as joining the Net Zero Energy Workforce
  3. inspire the next generation to choose STEM qualifications.

Transforming the UK’s energy system to meet our net zero target is one of the greatest challenges the country faces. To succeed we must be single minded in our focus and collaborative in our approach to building a skilled and motivated Net Zero Energy Workforce. It’s the job that can’t wait.

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Get to know our Net Zero Energy Workforce

We’re already building the Net Zero Energy Workforce. Here you can discover the vital work our people are doing to help us reduce emissions. From machine learning experts to graduate engineers, discover the diverse skills we’re gathering to help us transform the energy system for the future.

Meet Sarah

Sarah Woolham-Jaffier is a Seenior Innovation Engineer who's passionate about tackling climate change at home and at work

Read Sarah's story

Meet Jack

Jack Kelly is a Senior Technical Consultant at National Grid ESO using his coding skills to help cut emissions.

Read Jack's story

Meet Laura

Laura Rainey was on of the first people to study climate change as a Master's degree. Now she's a Senior Manager for Smart Distributed Energy using her skills to help deliver net zero

Read Laura's story

With a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering focusing on renewable energy, Alison Fulford, 29, was passionate about pursuing a career tackling climate change. Now she’s achieving exactly that as Environment Manager: Carbon Specialist for National Grid.

Alison Fulford: fulfilling ambitions to address climate change

45-year-old Andrew Benjamin, Head of Project Delivery at National Grid, specialises in the process of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS). CCUS tackles climate change by allowing us to store greenhouse gases, rather than releasing them into the air.

Andrew Benjamin: cutting carbon emissions

Within National Grid’s Corporate Strategy team, Belinda Littleton’s role is to translate big picture aims and thinking into tangible actions for the business. Here she focuses on her work on electric vehicles and their impact on the nation’s drivers.

Belinda Littleton: driving the shift to electric vehicles

Meet real-life rocket scientist Carolina Tortora, 42. Having originally studied Aerospace Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she’s been Head of Innovation Strategy at National Grid for the last three years.

Carolina Tortora: from rocket scientist to energy futurologist

27-year-old Erinn Sapsford was tempted away from her original career plans after enjoying an ‘industry year’ at National Grid during her Mechanical Engineering degree. As a Business Readiness Engineer, she helps the UK to import green energy from Norway.

Erinn Sapsford: helping green up the UK's energy

Gas Transmission Engineer, Lloyd Mitchell, 27, is researching and assessing how we can switch from high-carbon methane to lower-carbon hydrogen for a greener way to heat homes and businesses.

Lloyd Mitchell: the gas system game changer

Lyndon Ruff, 29, works as Lead Data Scientist at National Grid’s Electricity System Operator. He uses machine learning to predict how the weather will impact solar and wind power production. He’s also part of the team that created carbonintensity.org.uk

Lyndon Ruff: making a difference to carbon intensity via data

A week’s work experience proved life-changing for Nathan Hunt. Now 17, he swapped plans for A Levels and university for an apprenticeship with National Grid. Here he talks about what and how he’s learning and his hopes for the future.

Nathan Hunt: the apprentice with energy

Neil Rowley, 40, studied Sports Science for his degree, so it’s fair to say that joining National Grid wasn’t his original game plan. 17 years later, he’s got no regrets. As Gas Markets Development Manager, he's addressing how we can green up gas.

Neil Rowley: greening up gas

Robin Gupta, 33, leads the Zero 2050 project that seeks to decarbonise South Wales. This ground-breaking initiative involves a range of stakeholders, from government to communities, all working towards a greener South Wales.

Robin Gupta: working together to decarbonise South Wales

Senior Innovation Specialist, Steve Johnstone, 50, applies his 30 years’ experience to assessing how we can make the gas network greener. With gas so central to Britain’s energy system, decarbonising it will be vital if we’re to reach our Net Zero target.

Steve Johnstone: 30 years in energy and still learning

The Job That Can't Wait

The progress we make over the next decade is pivotal to finding the solutions to tackle climate change.

We need a Net Zero Energy Workforce equipped with the right skills and the enthusiasm to help us build a cleaner, greener energy system. We need smart people to help us bring more electric vehicles onto the roads, make sure we are powered from renewable energy sources and introduce lower carbon ways to heat our homes.

We need people to join us to do The Job That Can’t Wait.

Our Net Zero Commitment

National Grid Chief Executive, John Pettigrew, announces new target to reduce our own direct greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

 

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