Green Skills: what are they?

Getting Started


Introduction to green skills
What are green skills?
Why are green skills so important?
What is a green job and why is it important?
Green job sectors
Navigating an entry level green career
It’s time to skill up

Introduction to green skills

Our planet is facing a significant environmental crisis.

Climate change, food and water insecurity, deforestation, pollution, and biodiversity loss are just some of the environmental devastations we are contending with. None of these issues are easy to solve. There’s no quick fix. It requires a global effort.

To help tackle climate change, countries have come together through treaties like the Paris Agreement which require every country to draft and submit national climate action plans.

Infographics outlining the 1.5 degrees Paris Agreement limit
From the latest IPCC report on the climate crisis (2023)

The United Nations also introduced sustainable development goals in 2015, in which all member countries agreed to a framework designed to protect our natural environment.

To achieve our sustainability and climate change objectives, the UK is going to need a workforce that has the right skills. These skills are commonly referred to as ‘green skills’.

Additionally, there’s a need to create more green jobs that are specifically focused on restoring the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In this resource, we share an overview of green skills and green jobs, and provide guidance on how to acquire the skills you need for a satisfying and rewarding sustainable career.

If you’re looking for a more comprehensive guide on the type of roles available in the green/net-zero space check out our Explore guide GREEN & NET ZERO CAREERS.

What are green skills?

Green skills. You’ve probably heard the term, but what does it actually mean?

In a nutshell, green skills refer to the abilities and expertise needed to work sustainably and help the environment.

According to The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, there are four main categories of green skills

Engineering and technical skills

The expertise of engineers and those in skilled trades to design and build and maintain eco-friendly buildings and renewable energy technologies. This includes the building or maintenance of renewable energy solutions and making sure that any new buildings are energy efficient.

Science skills

This relates to the ability to innovate and develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials and technology. For example, this could include the development of new materials that are biodegradable or recyclable, or the invention of new processes for converting waste into energy.

Operation management skills

This category is all about being able to manage the way a company operates in order to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. It includes things like making production processes more efficient, implementing more energy efficient transport plans, and developing new ways to reduce waste or use resources more efficiently.

Monitoring skills

They are also important as a green skill, helping to ensure that a business is compliant with any company or legal guidelines surrounding sustainability and monitors their environmental performance.

What’s important to note is that some green skills, especially the operation management and monitoring skills, are not specific to any particular industry or size of business. These type of skills tend to be referred to as transferable skills. They are softer skills (i.e. teamwork, communication, adaptability etc.) and you are likely to have a whole set of valuable skills you can take with you from one job or work experience to another.

The Government report “Skills For A Green Economy” draws attention to this:

A quote about the importance of green skills

So, no matter what career path you’re currently planning, building your skills in using resources efficiently and monitoring your impact on the environment is likely to be beneficial.

Why are green skills so important?

Green skills are not just essential for the environment, they’re also important for your future career success.

In a world that’s becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, you might want to think about how you can boost your career prospects by embracing sustainability.

The ‘green revolution’ is a major part of the government’s plans to grow the UK economy and reach their net-zero targets by 2050.

This means green skills will most likely be in high demand across all industries and at every level of the workforce. By taking the initiative to build your green skills now, you’ll be ahead of the game, making yourself more employable in the future economy.

In addition to green skills that are applicable across all industries, there is also going to be a huge growth in ‘green jobs’.

The Government’s Green Job Delivery Group aims to deliver almost half a million skilled green jobs by 2030.

What is a green job, and why is it different?

Green jobs are slightly different to green skills, as they’re roles or careers that are specifically designed to be sustainable and help the country in its mission to achieve net-zero by 2050.

Green jobs typically have the ultimate aim of helping to restore the environment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or helping to manage resources more efficiently.

As an example, a job like a solar panel installer or wind turbine technician would be considered a green job. This is because it contributes to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

By choosing a green job you can make a positive impact on the environment at the same time as enjoying a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Adding to this, because “Green Jobs” are a relatively new phenomenon (in terms of general recognition from local authorities and the private sector), there is a huge opportunity to create a level playing field for a diverse and balanced workforce.

Green job sectors

There are a wide range of different green jobs becoming available across a variety of different industries.

With the current rate of technological development and the importance of the UK reaching net-zero by 2050, it’s likely that new green jobs are going to be created all the time.

But right now, the main green jobs sectors in the UK are in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and green building. See below for a top line summary outlined in the Green Jobs and Skills in London: cross-London report.

Green finance 387,000), representing 37% of total green jobs in London

Power (232,500), representing 22% of total green jobs in London.

Homes and Buildings (151,700), representing 15% of total green jobs in London.

Low Carbon Transport (147,200), representing 14% of total green jobs in London.

Renewable Energy

The renewable energy sector focuses on producing energy from renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro power.

One of the key roles in the UK renewable energy sector is the Wind Turbine Technician.

The UK is actually one of the world leaders in wind power, and currently has over 11,000 active wind turbines.

A wind turbine technician is responsible for keeping on top of the maintenance of wind turbines and repairing them when necessary, to make sure they are operating safely and efficiently.

Another important role in renewable energy is the Solar Panel Installer. It’s estimated that only 4% of UK homes currently have solar panels installed. Even if only a modest proportion of the remaining 96% of homes consider solar panels in the future, there’s likely to be significant career opportunities for people getting into solar panel installation in the coming years.

It’s also worth looking into roles as a Heat Pump Engineer, responsible for the installation and maintenance of heat pump systems. A heat pump is a type of heating system that can transfer heat from the ground or air to warm the inside of a building. They do require a small amount of electricity to run, but they can achieve between a 300-400% energy efficiency rate based on the heat they generate.

Energy Efficiency

Being efficient in the use of energy is really important for protecting the environment and working towards net-zero targets.

There are plenty of green careers in the energy efficiency industry which involve reducing the amount of energy we consume in our homes, workplaces and manufacturing processes.

An important role in the field of energy efficiency is Energy Auditor. An energy auditor reviews the energy usage of residential and commercial buildings and advises customers on the best way to conserve energy.

In the manufacturing industry, roles such as Lean Manufacturing Engineers are focused on improving production methods and processes so they are more energy efficient and produce less waste.

Sustainable Transport

Sustainable transport is another important green career sector that helps us on the path to new-zero and offers plenty of future job opportunities.

The Government has announced an end to the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, which means we’re likely to see a lot more electric vehicles on the road. Electric vehicle mechanics are going to be in high demand – it’s already estimated that there is likely to be a shortage of skilled workers in this area by 2030. So if you’re interested in a career maintaining and repairing electric vehicles, your skills are likely to be highly sought after.

Sustainable Transport Planners are also likely to be in high demand, developing public transport networks and cycle schemes to meet local sustainable travel needs.

Within larger organisations you’re also likely to see more Logistics Sustainability Co-ordinators, who work to ensure that a company’s transportation and logistics are as sustainable as possible. This might involve finding more energy efficient routes or investing in more environmentally friendly methods of transportation.

Green Building

Green buildings are designed to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient than traditional buildings.

In the UK, BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) is the certification standard for sustainable buildings.

BREEAM evaluates any new building project on variety of different criteria, including energy efficiency, CO2 emissions, the use of renewable energy, water consumption, waste management, the types of materials used in construction, and the project’s impact on local transport.

This has led to an increasing demand for roles such as Building Energy and Sustainability Consultants who work alongside architects and construction teams to design buildings that are sustainable and energy efficient, and meet all relevant building guidelines.

The green building revolution also provides plenty of employment opportunities for skilled tradespeople who have expertise or experience in sustainable building methods.

Another important green building career in the fight against climate change, is a Retrofit Coordinator.

Retrofitting relates to upgrading the energy performance of older buildings through a variety of different solutions such as improved insulation, and the installation of double glazing and renewable energy systems.

Other Green Careers

Green career opportunities don’t only exist in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport and green building.

As we move further into the green industrial revolution, we’re going to see green jobs appear in almost all sectors.

For example, there’s an increasing demand within agriculture for Sustainable Agriculture Specialists who reduce the impact that farming has on the environment, reduce waste in food production and minimise the use of harmful chemicals.

The increased importance of sustainable business practices also paves the way for green careers in Environmental Law and Environmental Education.

SMEs and the untapped opportunities

It’s important to think beyond the larger organisations and “traditional” green job role. SMEs make up a significant majority of the UK economy and there are millions of organisations and charities focusing on food waste, recyclable packaging, sustainable agriculture, plant based alternatives etc.

An infographic about how SMEs make up 99.9% of UK businesses

Navigating an entry level green career

The opportunities for green careers spans multiple different industries and specialisms.

This breadth of opportunity is exciting for anyone starting their career, but it does make it difficult to advise the ‘best way’ to get into green careers. The training and entry requirements you’ll need will vary based on the specific sector and type of job role you want to pursue.

To help you along the way, we’re able to point you in the right direction of some potential routes into green careers and some resources that will help you develop your green skills.

Skills for Life: Bootcamps

Skills for Life is a Government funded initiative that helps people aged 19 or over access training to progress in their careers or change sector.

Their ‘Skills Bootcamps’ last up to 16 weeks and allow people to train in a variety of areas – including green careers such as electric vehicle maintenance and heat pump technology.

One of the great things about the Skills Bootcamps is that you’re guaranteed an interview after you successfully complete the course. So if you’re able to invest your time in the 16 weeks of training, this is a great entry level route into green skills careers.

Free courses in England

This initiative is also funded by the Government, and provides a range of free courses for anyone looking to improve their skills and employability.

They currently offer a 6-week course on Understanding Climate Change & Environmental Awareness which helps you understand the importance of environmentally friendly practices in both domestic and commercial settings.

If you’re keen to boost your CV with some green skills credentials that demonstrate you’re committed to sustainability, this is a good option to consider.

Other online courses

There are also plenty of other online courses which offer training and certification on green skills.

edX has a range of free or affordable sustainability courses, and it’s also worth checking out FutureLearn.

If you’re looking for more hands-on experience in your local area, it’s worth visiting organisations like Groundwork who help provide young people across the UK gain valuable skills and experience – including green skills.


There are currently 44 apprenticeships available that support green careers, with more planned to launch in the future.

The Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education launched a Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel (GAAP) in 2021 to help develop a range of apprenticeships to support the Government’s mission to reach net-zero by 2050. The Government have also launched the “Coronation 2023: 6 green apprenticeships and how to apply” as part of its Education hub.

So if you’re interested in earning while you learn on the job, it might be worth looking for any available green apprenticeships in your area. The Government Apprenticeship web portal is the best place to find a list of all available local apprenticeships.

University Courses

There are an increasing number of environmentally focused degree courses available at universities across the country.

If you know what kind of green career you’d like to pursue, head over to and it can help you understand which type of course might be most suitable.

If you’re interested in browsing all the sustainability focused courses across the UK, WhatUni has a comprehensive list.

It’s time to skill up

The ongoing environmental crisis and the ambition for a net-zero future is fuelling the demand for green skills and jobs.

Investing in the development of your green skills and potentially pursuing a career in the green economy is not just important for our planet, but it can also be a smart move for your career.

As the world shifts towards a sustainable future, green skills will become even more valuable across many industries.

This guide has provided an overview of green skills, the importance of green jobs, and the entry-level routes you can take to get started in a fulfilling and rewarding sustainable career. Whether you choose to focus on building your transferable green skills, or pursue a career in an important green jobs sector, you will be playing a vital role in helping our planet transition to a more sustainable future.