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Generation Green ambitions at risk of going to ‘waste’

  • Over two thirds (68%) of children hope to work in a ‘green job’, but 71% say a lack of knowledge about these careers could stop them from following their passion
  • ‘Making a difference’ (55%) a bigger influence on kids’ career choices than ‘money’ (31%) or ‘fame’ (7%)
  • Children (77%) and parents (71%) feel that environmental efforts have dwindled since the pandemic
  • IET creates content series fronted by Blue Peter presenter Lindsey Russell to help young people understand more about green jobs and what they entail

Over two-thirds of children (68%) aged 5 – 13, hope to follow a career that helps the environment, but a lack of understanding about these jobs could stop them from getting there. Seven in 10 (71%) kids feel this knowledge gap is the biggest barrier to their dream career, and a third (33%) of parents cannot give an example of a sustainability-related profession to guide their children.

The Government recently announced a £40million investment to unlock thousands of ‘green jobs’. However, the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET), who commissioned the research, warns that without an understanding of eco-friendly careers, children may follow other routes.

Making a positive difference (55%) is a bigger influence on kids’ career choices than ‘money’ (31%) or ‘fame’ (7%) but the research highlights a need to maintain children’s passion for saving the planet to ensure a strong pipeline of talent. Six in 10 (59%) six-year-olds listed ‘making a positive difference’ as the biggest influence, but this drops to 50% by age 13, while ‘earning as much money as possible’ rises from 26% to 38% in the same age groups.

70% of kids claim to do at least three environmentally friendly things every day such as recycling or choosing a green method of transport. Nearly two-thirds of children (64%) believe saving the planet from climate change to be the world’s number one priority, compared to just 57% of adults.

But demonstrating the need for more environmental action, both groups agree that efforts have dwindled in the shadow of the pandemic – with 71% of parents and 77% of children feeling sustainability has taken a back seat in the past six months.

To help harness kids' passion, the IET has created a content series that looks at different green jobs in the field of engineering; what they are and what they entail. The videos are fronted by Lindsey Russell who speaks to people whose jobs help save the planet and minimise humanity’s impact on the environment, to better understand what they do and why their work is so important.

Lindsey Russell, TV presenter said: “Climate change is one of the biggest issues we face as a generation and it’s an extremely important time for us to take action so I’m honoured to be able to work with the IET to front this campaign. I’ve spoken to some incredibly talented people and hopefully, the video series helps inform kids about the options they have to turn their passion into a career and help save the planet.”

Dr Peter Bonfield, President at the IET, said: “It’s clear that children have a real enthusiasm to help the environment but both young people and their parents need guidance in order to be able to turn their passion into future careers. Engineering and technology-related sectors are at the forefront of providing sustainability-related solutions and we hope that this content series helps explain to children the ways in which they can help tackle these issues.”

To view the series and find out more about sustainability careers, visit

Top green jobs for kids to pursue:

  • Oceanographer
  • Environmental engineer
  • Forest and conservation technician
  • Geoscientist
  • Soil and plant scientists
  • Clean car engineer
  • Natural scientist
  • Wave energy producers
  • Wind energy workers/technicians
  • Green architect/designer
  • Hydrologist
  • Conservation scientist
  • Ocean/Earth scientist.




Notes to editors

The research was conducted by 3Gem from 21 - 27 August 2020 – surveying 1000 children between the ages of 5-13 years old and 1000 parents of children between 5-13 years old.

In the video series which can be viewed at, Lindsey speaks to an Aerospace engineer that has worked on hybrid-electric aircraft for sustainable air transport, an Oceanographer working on ocean clean-ups and a power-systems engineer who helps utility companies to try and achieve their Net Zero ambitions.

IET’s top tips

In addition to creating a video content series, the IET has five top tips for parents to nurture their children’s interest in the environment and a list of possible ‘green jobs’ in the world of STEM.

  • Get involved in community projects such as allotments, local litter collections and beach clean-ups
  • Get stuck into activities at home such as composting food waste, growing flowers or plants
  • Lead by example when it comes to eco-friendly habits such as recycling, taking eco-friendly transport and conserving energy where possible
  • Learn together and don’t be embarrassed if your children know more about the environment than you do!
  • Have open conversations about preserving the planet, your children’s worries and what you can do help make the world a better place

About the IET

  • We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community to engineer a better world.
  • We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth means we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • Interview opportunities are available with our spokespeople from a range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and diversity in engineering.
  • For more information, visit
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.