One in seven people in Central Bedfordshire work in high emission industries – and could struggle to find new work as net zero impacts

Workers could struggle to find new jobs
Jobs in high emissons occupations could be hit - Photo Owen HumphreysJobs in high emissons occupations could be hit - Photo Owen Humphreys
Jobs in high emissons occupations could be hit - Photo Owen Humphreys

One in seven people in Central Bedfordshire work in high emission industries, new figures show.

Experts warned these workers are more likely to be affected by the Government’s net zero pledge, as 14% of them have no formal qualifications and could struggle to find new work when their jobs are phased out. The UK is currently committed to reaching net zero by 2050.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 22,088 people in Central Bedfordshire were working in high emission industries as of the 2021 Census. This was equivalent to 14.6% of all 151,077 workers.

These industries include agriculture, manufacturing, electricity and gas, water supply and waste management, and transport. They contribute to 80% of UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, excluding household emissions.

The Work Foundation at Lancaster University said it is vital opportunities are provided for workers to move to secure and sustainable jobs in the future and called on the Government to extend training schemes.

In Central Bedfordshire, most people (11,656) were employed in manufacturing, followed by transport and storage with 7,887 workers.

Ben Harrison, director of the Work Foundation, said: “As the UK transitions to net zero, it is vital that we provide skills pathways for workers to move from jobs in high emission industries into high quality, secure and sustainable jobs in the future.

“But the UK's track record on investing in adult education and training remains poor – over 7.5 million mid-career workers have not received any training since leaving full time education.

Across England and Wales, on average one in six people were found to work in high emission industries.

Mr Harrison added: “To ensure no workers or regions are left behind in the net-zero transition, the Government and employers should specifically focus on extending training opportunities to those in ‘at risk’ jobs and on low pay.

“This should include additional support for the indirect costs of training such as childcare, and reforms to Universal Credit, to ensure recipients aren’t discouraged from improving their skills.”

Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth, said adapting to a low carbon future shouldn’t mean fewer jobs.

“New careers in clean industries will emerge, for example as part of the drive to insulate UK homes,” he said.

“The US and EU are pouring billions into the jobs and industries of the future green economy, but the UK has failed to follow suit, and risks falling behind when it should be at the forefront of the green revolution.”

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said: “Many of the skills in these jobs will be crucial for the green transition – these communities will be at the heart of the green jobs and the green industries of the future.

“We’re leading the world in our transformation of the energy industry towards more clean and renewable energy, with over 80,000 green jobs being supported or in the pipeline since 2020.

“On top of this, our plans to power up Britain are expected to attract a further £100 billion investment in green industries of the future and support 480,000 jobs by 2030, helping to level up communities across the country.”