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Six in ten school leavers could skip university – and go straight into a 'green' job


Six in ten school leavers are considering skipping university and going straight into work or an apprenticeship – with 46 percent of those hoping to secure a “green job”, research has found. A green job refers to any role that has a positive impact on the planet – such as working for a sustainable company, jobs with environmentally conscious credentials, or working in the circular economy, for instance repairing shoes and clothing, or upcycling furniture.

And a poll of 2,000 young adults, aged 16-24, found that almost three-quarters (71 percent) believe such roles are the best way to take action to tackle climate change.

It also emerged that two-thirds of this age group believe the cost of university is simply too high – making starting work or an apprenticeship at age 16-18 look all the more appealing, over traditional higher education, in order to get a head start in their career.

However, some of the top misconceptions that often put youngsters off applying for such “green” roles include the fear that their own personal habits would be scrutinised (51 percent) – and that these jobs don’t pay very well (39 percent).

Nearly half (43 percent) feel that there is not enough information available on the options available when it comes to green jobs – and four in ten believe such jobs must always take place outdoors, in nature.

Meanwhile, 40 percent worry that having a traditional degree is a mandatory requirement for being hired – which is where degree apprenticeships come in.

Degree apprenticeships are becoming increasingly appealing, as they offer young people the chance to earn as they learn within an organisation, while undertaking a degree which is paid for by their employer.

And nearly half of school leavers (48 percent) feel a degree apprenticeship is the best path to starting a green career after school – compared to just 29 percent, who think going to university would help them secure a green job.

Meanwhile, 63 percent of 16-18-year-olds view going straight out to work, or taking an apprenticeship, as an opportunity to boost their skills sooner.

The research was conducted by energy and sustainable solutions provider, E.ON UK, whose CEO, Chris Norbury, said: “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 that are working towards net zero are already creating thousands of exciting new jobs that deliver personal and professional fulfilment for people all over the UK.

“We’re leading the way with roles across our organisation focused on helping people become more sustainable in their homes, businesses, and communities.

“One example is our degree apprenticeship scheme, which offers opportunities for young people to develop their passion for sustainability, and sets them on the path to a successful and rewarding career.”

Official figures show that in 2023, 430,000 students expressed an interest in apprenticeship opportunities via UCAS – a 180 percent increase since 2021.

And about 40 percent of UCAS applicants now say they would consider an apprenticeship.

Helen Tupper, expert career adviser, bestselling author of “Squiggly Things”, and co-founder of “Amazing If” podcast, said: “Starting your career can feel daunting when there are so many decisions to make about what to do, and where to do it.

“However, there’s no longer a default for what “good” career development looks like – which 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.

“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.”

To find out more about E.ON’s degree apprenticeships, and other apprenticeship schemes, visit here.

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