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The TUC has today warned that at least 39,100 jobs in the North West could be at risk if the UK fails to transition to net zero as fast as other nations.

The analysis identifies jobs that, unless government acts now, could be moved offshore to countries that offer superior green infrastructure and greater support for decarbonising industry.

The loss of those jobs would then put thousands more jobs at risk in supply chains for the affected industries.

Across Great Britain, the analysis finds that there are:

  • 259,700 jobs at direct risk in manufacturing sectors
  • 407,100 supply chain jobs at secondary risk across the UK economy

An accurate breakdown to national and regional level of jobs at risk in supply chains is not possible because of the complex distribution of supply chain work. However, there are typically 1.5 supply chain jobs at risk for each direct job at risk.

Job risk by manufacturing sector

Broken down by sector, the jobs at direct risk across Great Britain include:

  • 26,900 jobs in iron and steel
  • 41,000 jobs in glass and ceramics
  • 63,200 jobs in chemicals
  • 18,000 jobs in textiles
  • 79,000 jobs in rubber and plastics
  • 15,500 jobs in paper, pulp and printing
  • 7,800 jobs in refineries
  • 7,400 jobs in wood products
  • 900 jobs in cement and lime

Falling behind other countries

Research published by the TUC in June found that the UK is second last among G7 economies for its investment in green infrastructure and jobs. 

While the UK Treasury is barely investing £180 per person on green recovery and jobs over the next decade, President Biden plans to allocate over £2,960 per person on green recovery, jobs and programmes like public transport, electric vehicles and energy efficiency retrofits.

Scaled by population, the UK’s green recovery investment is just a quarter (24%) of France, a fifth (21%) of Canada, and 6% of the USA.

Action needed to save jobs

The TUC is calling on the government to action the recommendations of the Green Jobs Taskforce in full, and for an £85 billion green recovery package to create 1.24 million green jobs.

In addition, the TUC has repeated its calls for a permanent short-time working scheme to help protect working people through periods of future industrial change. 

It would make a crucial difference by acting as a bridge for workers in jobs and industries under threat from offshoring during the global transition to net zero.

The union body says such a scheme would give UK workers similar protection to workers in 23 OECD countries that already have this type of scheme, including Germany, Japan and many US states. And it would produce significant savings on redundancy, training and hiring costs, and enable firms to keep skilled staff on their books. 

TUC Regional Secretary Lynn Collins said: 

“The world is moving very clearly in one direction – away from carbon and toward net zero. The UK must keep up with the pace of change.

“There’s still time to protect vital North West jobs in manufacturing and its supply chains. But the clock is ticking.

“Unless the Westminster government urgently scales up investment in green tech and industry, we risk losing thousands of decent jobs to competitor nations.

“If we move quickly, we can still safeguard jobs in the North West’s industry. The government should boost investment to at least the G7 average and commit to the Green Jobs Taskforce plans in full.  Then today’s workers will know that their jobs are safe, and the future can be bright with decent jobs for their children too.”

Editors note

- Sectoral breakdown of UK manufacturing jobs at risk of offshoring


Jobs within the sector at direct risk

Supply chain jobs at secondary risk*







Iron and steel



Cement and lime



Paper, pulp, & printing



Rubber and plastics



Glass and ceramics












* Supply chain jobs have been adjusted down to remove double-counting, and will include jobs in a wide range of sectors

- Regional breakdown of manufacturing jobs at direct risk of offshoring


Jobs at direct risk in manufacturing sectors*

North West


Yorkshire and The Humber


West Midlands


East Midlands


South East








South West


North East




*Jobs at secondary risk in supply chains cannot be broken down by region as their locations are more complex to determine.

- Methodology:  

To define industries at risk of offshoring, the TUC’s calculations use analysis from the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC) on the industries most at risk of carbon leakage (top-end, broader estimate). ESC is funded by Innovate UK, which is part UK Research and Innovation, a public body funded by the UK government.

Direct job numbers for sectors at risk are sourced from the ONS’s Business Register and Employment Survey (reference year 2019). The sectoral estimates were then downgraded based on the TUC’s analysis of the relative susceptibility of each broader sector to offshoring due to decarbonisation. 

The susceptibility analysis considered a number of factors, including: the sector’s overall energy consumption; carbon intensity; ability for domestic production to be replaced with imports (represented in part by existing imports); investment in new technology and upgrades needed to decarbonise; and the extent to which sub-sectors of the industry are at particular risk of offshoring.

Supply chain job numbers are estimated using multipliers from ONS’s 2017 Input-Output Analytical Tables, which quantify the number of indirect (supply chain) jobs in each industry proportional to the number of direct jobs.

The Input-Output Analytical Tables were also used to avoid double-counting indirect jobs (by estimating the overlap between direct jobs in any of the industries covered, and indirect jobs supported by others).

- UK green recovery investment compared to other G7 nations: in June, the TUC published a report showing that the UK’s government’s green jobs and recovery plans lag far behind most G7 countries:  

- Green Jobs Taskforce: The Green Jobs Taskforce was chaired by government ministers and includes representation from industry and unions. In July, it published plans for how these jobs can be secured for the future, including by increasing targeted investment into industrial decarbonisation, support for reskilling, and social dialogue between employers, unions, and government. More information is here: 

- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.


TUC press office  
020 7467 1248

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