Future green jobs reliant on policy

4th July 2012


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The number of environmental engineers and energy auditors is predicted to rise over the next two years, but political ambition will play a key role in developing a skilled workforce

New research from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) concludes that job growth in Europe be seen in green sectors, such as renewables and energy efficiency, but warns that uncertainty over subsidies and taxes could harm investment in skills and limit new jobs.

In an analysis of figures from EU labour force survey (EU LFS) and interviews with employers’ associations and training providers, IES reveals that during the recession employment figures for insulation workers has risen across the Europe. However, there was a decline in the number energy auditors, environment engineers and solar photovoltaic (PV) installers

In the UK, the report argues, changes to legislation have negatively impacted on demand for energy auditors, PV installers and insulation workers. Meanwhile, in Germany the number of energy consultants and auditors has grown by 8% since 2007, alongside a rapidly growing renewable energy sector.

Looking forward, however, employers groups surveyed agree that over the next two years the UK is likely to need more environmental engineers, to mitigate the environmental impact of developments, more energy auditors and significantly more insulation workers – reflecting the potential of the government’s green deal scheme.

The report also examined how green sector skills are likely to be developed over the coming years, with 61% of the training providers polled confirming that they anticipate strong growth in demand from employers for such skills in the future. More than half (53%) of training providers believe that the biggest demand will come from existing workers needing to upgrade existing skills.

The research reveals, for example, that despite energy auditors needing to hold a relevant undergraduate degree, there remains a need for more technical knowledge of energy systems and measurement techniques.

In the UK in particular, a “broader contextual knowledge of energy consumption in different settings” is cited as being important, alongside greater marketing and persuasion skills. Similar skill gaps are reported for environmental engineers.

The IES study follows a recent poll of 500 environment graduates in the UK , which revealed that 80% believe the number of green jobs would continue to rise.

Almost half of the graduates responding to the Change Agents survey had a masters degree, and 87% believe having a job that works towards sustainability was worth more than a higher salary.

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