Green-collar salaries soar, but lack of talent threatens net zero

Construction worker wearing a safety mask moving pieces of mineral wool insulation. A new report by Turner & Townsend says that the UK is struggling to fill green-collar jobs.
The average wage in the UK for specialist green contractors is £47 per hour (Image: Welcomia via

Highly sought green-collar jobs are reaching annual salaries of over £134,000 – but the UK is struggling to fill specialist roles.

Competition for green talent has pushed costs to record levels, while all regions in the country are suffering from an acute shortage of skilled construction workers, according to a new report by professional services company Turner & Townsend.

Specialist green contractors are now paid two and a half times more than general construction labourers, who typically earn £28 per hour in London.

Insulation specialists and solar and heat pump installers in the capital typically earn £70 per hour and wages have soared by 22% in the last 12 months.

Outside London, the average UK wage for these specialists is £47 per hour, around twice that of general labourers.

Threat to decarbonisation

T&T’s International construction market survey says this lack of skilled green-collar construction workers, in addition to high wage inflation, is threatening the UK’s delivery of its binding 2050 net-zero target.

All nine UK regions surveyed reported skills shortages, and 78% of construction businesses reported this shortage is already having a ‘major’ or ‘large’ impact on decarbonisation programmes.

Chris Sargent, managing director of UK real estate at Turner & Townsend, said: “As a nation we have a relatively old and inefficient building stock, and construction is absolutely central to meeting our net-zero goals and making our homes, offices and public buildings fit for the future. Fundamentally, this can’t be done without the workforce. Hundreds of thousands of new trained specialists are required to give the sector the capacity it needs for the green transition.

“High wages may make the role more appealing to many, and attract these much-needed skills. But green construction cannot afford to be in a separate tier of costs from traditional work. We need to help make net zero achievable and affordable by investing now in building and training the pipeline of skilled workers we need, and by adopting innovative digital tools to improve productivity and outcomes.”

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