Sustainability in business cartoon featuring giant hands cradling an ecosystem of a green business.
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Irish businesses say skills gaps are an obstacle to sustainability

31 Mar 2022

New research from ESRI and Skillnet Ireland highlighted the importance of digital skills for businesses during the green transition.

New research has suggested that the development of talent and skills is the biggest challenge associated with the implementation of Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.

Skillnet Ireland and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) surveyed 100 business leaders from a broad range of industry sectors and business sizes. Their goal was to identify the priorities of businesses in their efforts to develop talent and respond to the challenges posed by the implementation of the Climate Action Plan and the objectives of the European Green Deal.

The findings were collated into a report, Talent for Ireland’s Green Economy 2022, which identified skills gaps and highlighted the need for digital skills to harness the potential of green technologies.

The majority of respondents (84pc) selected climate change and sustainability strategy skills as the top skillset needed in the medium term to support their businesses’ green transition. This was followed by marketing skills (70pc) and financial skills relating to investment and access to finance (67pc).

In terms of green skills, waste management, corporate sustainability strategy and carbon management skills were the top three development priorities for business leaders.

Waste management was the number one priority, with 78pc of respondents singling it out as an area needed for enterprises. Three-quarters of respondents said corporate sustainability strategy skills were a priority, while 67pc said carbon management skills.

Improving the energy efficiency of processes, buildings and transport, as well as reducing emissions along the supply chain were also raised as priorities areas for business leaders.

More than half of respondents (60pc) said they expected that achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 would have a positive impact on enterprise performance in the medium term.

“Tailored training programmes to each sector and enterprise group and at different stages in the transition to a low-carbon economy would help businesses to better act and manage the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Prof Iulia Siedschlag of ESRI, who was lead author of the report.

Tracey Donnery, director of communications and policy at Skillnet Ireland, added that transitioning to a low-carbon economy “comes with a level of uncertainty for businesses”.

“We know from this research study in collaboration with the ESRI and our work with industry that all businesses will undergo a significant shift and having access to responsive business supports will be key,” she added.

Last year, Skillnet Ireland launched an initiative called Climate Ready in association with Chambers Ireland, Wind Energy Ireland and Sustainable Finance Ireland. The Government-backed programme aims to help Irish businesses respond to the climate emergency with leadership and skills training.

The Climate Ready Academy recently introduced a course aimed at leaders who want to integrate sustainability into their businesses. Another leadership course focused on sustainability was launched last year by the Irish Institute of Directors.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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