Green economy: Fuelling the engine room

going green

Low carbon businesses across Lancashire are struggling to recruit the skills they need and that is holding the sector back from achieving its full potential.

Those were the conclusions from a study carried out last year by The Work Foundation in conjunction with the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The research from the Lancaster University Management School think-tank revealed that 47 per cent of businesses surveyed are finding it difficult to recruit staff with the skills they need. With almost a third finding it hard to recruit for specialist skills.

Among its recommendations is the need for low carbon and energy sector employers to develop job offers based on “strong terms and conditions and inclusive clear career pathways” to increase the appeal of low carbon jobs and attract under-represented groups.

The report also called for the creation of entry level opportunities within the low carbon sector as stepping stones to apprenticeships to attract younger workers.

Workers in high carbon sectors also need to be supported to retrain for roles within the low carbon sector.

The prize for Lancashire, if it can overcome the skills challenge, is great. The Local Government Association is projecting there will be 44,000 green jobs in the county by 2030 – rising to 68,000 by 2050.

Growth in opportunities is already emerging with over 600 job vacancies posted in low carbon in October and November 2021.

From nuclear and wind to marine and battery technologies, Lancashire is home to 5,200 businesses in the energy and low carbon sector.

Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, director of the Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, believes a partnership approach is needed to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming.

She says: “The Work Foundation research demonstrates a clear need for employers to work with skills and employment providers to address skills shortages, and for businesses to actively promote their sectors and job opportunities to young people in school and college to attract future talent.

“Locally, colleges, universities and providers are working collectively across the area to drive technical pathways, alongside established academic routes, to build a pipeline of skills that is aligned with the needs of our industry base.

“For example, a new Lancashire Institute of Technology has been announced which is aimed at addressing the technical skills needs of the energy and low carbon, and advanced manufacturing sectors, as well as boosting higher technical digital and cyber skills.