Green skills gap could hit UK’s environmental ambitions

Growing pressure on employers to be environmentally friendly from government and consumers will lead to a ‘green’ skills gap in the UK, a report has warned.

The survey of 575 senior executives, conducted by engineering consultant Royal Haskoning, revealed that demand for ‘green collar’ workers – the term used to describe those that work in environmental-related roles or industries – will increase dramatically over the next 12 months.

About half (53%) of respondents predicted their company’s need for green collar skills and services would increase in the future. But more than a third (37%) said they were concerned about their company’s future ability to satisfy those requirements.

The top reason for boosting green skills and services was the need to meet government and legislative sustainability targets and criteria (30%), followed by internal environmental policy targets (27%), and customer pressure to be green (21%).

Earlier this week the government business secretary John Hutton claimed that one million ‘green collar’ jobs could be created in low-carbon technology, as part of its manufacturing strategy review.

Henry Rowe, member of the Royal Haskoning management board, said: “As pressure mounts for British businesses to implement green strategies and services, the worry remains whether our current and future domestic skills market can service these demands.

“We need to encourage the take up of science and engineering degrees and create an environment that fosters home-grown talent to ensure Britain benefits from the forthcoming ‘green collar’ boom,” he added.

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