Skills shortages risk low-carbon economy

28th April 2015


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  • Construction ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Training ,
  • CPD

Author

Emma Shearing

A lack of STEM graduates will hamper low-carbon innovation across the economy, causing the UK to miss out on growth worth £6.7 billion a year, finds a new report.

Engineering growth – enabling world-class entrepreneurship in the low-carbon economy warns that by 2023 there will be a shortfall of 50,000 graduates a year with science, technology, engineering and maths skills.

The report, which was commissioned by Shell Springboard, which funds innovative low-carbon technologies, states: “Having the right skills in the economy will be essential to enabling the UK to maximise the low-carbon opportunity. Given that much of the innovation required by the low-carbon transition is technological in nature, engineering and science skills are essential to a successful low-carbon energy transition.”

It also warns that the UK lacks the entrepreneurial culture that is essential to converting technical skills into actionable and proven business opportunities. It says that, although the green energy industry in the UK produced double the number of “spin-outs” from universities as the US between 2000 and 2013 relative to GDP, they raised less than half the equity their American counterparts did.

Professor Erkko Autio from Imperial College business school, who led the team that produced the report, said: “This research shows that we not only need new technologies, but also new business models and new entrepreneurial attitudes. A new breed of entrepreneurs will be spearheading such innovation, from university spin-outs to individual entrepreneurs, and we must do everything we can to ensure their scale-up performance is the best it can be.”

The report recommends reform of education to improve technical and entrepreneurial skills and greater policy stability to support investment certainty in the low-carbon sector. It also says big businesses need to be encouraged to support viable low-carbon innovation.

The call to expand the number of graduates with STEM skills comes as the IEMA campaign to bridge the sustainability skills gap secured the backing of its 40th sponsor, civil engineering business VolkerWessels.

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