Feature

The UK requires a retrofit army to meet Net Zero target

New research by UK100 shows that a “retrofit army” of nearly half a million builders, electricians and plumbers will be needed to meet Government’s 2050 Net Zero objective

The figures were published as a cross-party task force of 24 mayors and local leaders, representing 24 million people across England submitted a proposal to the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to unlock £100bn as part of the Spending Review, which closed on 24 September. The finance should be predominantly met from the private sector with the Treasury pump-priming £5bn via a Net Zero Development Bank.

In total 455,076 jobs could be created or in demand in the construction and property sectors. The construction industry has been one of the hardest hit in the pandemic, with 90% of construction businesses having applied for the furlough scheme, second only to the hospitality sector. In total, over 3 million jobs are expected to be in demand or created as part of a shift to a green economy across a range of sectors.

Essex is the area with the highest number of potential new construction and property jobs – with a total of 12,841 roles likely to be created or in demand. Outside London (64,551 jobs) and the South East (67,467 jobs) the areas with the greatest number of new jobs are the North West (50,380), the East of England (48,427) and Scotland (42,978).

The UK Green Building Council has estimated that to achieve Net Zero carbon by 2050, we will need to improve almost all of the UK’s 29 million homes, meaning we need to retrofit more than 1.8 homes every minute between now and 2050.

The new ‘retrofit army’ would be supported to go green with incentives to switch from diesel and petrol white vans to electric vehicles, as well as seamless access to electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the UK. There would also be support to encourage public transport use, walking and cycling.

Although the UK100 jobs data is not time specific, a recent report by the New Economics Foundation which interviewed industry experts found that “a period of three to four years was thought to be required to train up the supply chain to full capacity.”