Forty-six percent of Britain’s young people aged 16 to 24 plan to forego traditional college or university education, and opt for immediate jobs in burgeoning green sectors, new research released today by E.on indicates.

As the Sunak government equivocates over the nation’s green future, approves fossil fuel jobs from the Rosebank oilfield and defends motorists from an imaginary “war”, young people appear from E.on’s research already to be following a vision which the nation’s departing leaders lack.

E.on asked market research firm 3Gem 2023 to quiz 2,000 young adults on their training intentions as they enter Britain’s workforce.

School leavers are questioning the need to go to university, with two in three  – 66% – telling E.on’s researchers the cost of traditional higher education is too high.  Forty-four per cent believe a degree apprenticeship is the best path to starting a green career.

A majority of school leavers – or 60% of 16-18 year olds – want to go straight into employment to get a head start in their career, the researchers found.

The energy supplier’s study is confirmed by official figures. UCAS, the body supervising university & college admissions, found this year that 430,000 students expressed an interest in apprenticeships, a 180% increase since 2021.

Young people are increasingly making the link between their personal environmental credibility and the way they earn their living.  51% told E.on’s researchers they know their personal climate actions will be scrutinised if they work in a green role.   Seven in 10 state they’re look for such employment so they can play their part in taking climate action.

Misconceptions linger, though.  Two in five young adults believe green jobs must take place in outside in nature (40%) or think green jobs don’t pay very well (39%).

German-based E.on released the research as it sought to publicise its own UK apprenticeship schemes.  It currently has almost 200 new learners working on over 50 different schemes in skills covering engineering, project management and supply chain leadership, as well as skills in customer service, accountancy, HR, legal and cyber security.

E.on UK boss Chris Norbury commented: “It’s incredibly positive that young people are actively looking to build a green career and are keen to join organisations that are focused on helping people become more sustainable.

“Industries working towards Net Zero are already creating thousands of exciting new jobs that deliver personal and professional fulfilment for people all over the UK”, Norbury went on.

Degree apprenticeships – where people earn as they learn within an organisation while undertaking a degree which is paid for by their employer – are increasingly appealing to young Brits.

Almost half – 48% – of young people believe a degree apprenticeship is the best path to starting a green career after school, compared to just 29% who think traditional higher education such as university would help them secure a green job.

Careers expert Helen Tupper, author of ‘The Squiggly Career’ and co-founder of the ‘Amazing If’ podcast, added: “There’s no longer a default for what ‘good’ career development looks like. That means younger generations have more freedom to progress their careers in ways that work for them.

“Apprenticeships are a great example of how Millennials and Gen Z are beginning to determine their own development, allowing them to learn quickly and develop their skills in a variety of roles”,  Tupper advised.

With sustainability and climate considerations high on the agenda for younger generations, apprenticeships within organisations that are focused on these areas are helping people to combine their purpose with their progression.”


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