New report claims green economy will spark growth

30 Nov 2010

A new report has been launched that identifies the fast-growing green economy as a potentially key area for Ireland’s growth.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) report – Future Skills Needs of Enterprise within the Green Economy in Ireland identifies the future skills needs of enterprise to capitalise on the green economy in Ireland and proposes a range of measures to ensure their future skills base will drive business and employment growth. 

Minister for Lifelong Learning Sean Haughey, TD, described the report as timely and said its strong potential would help build business and employment over coming years.

National plan

“This report is valuable and timely given the redoubled focus on the green economy as one of the prioritised sectors identified in the Government’s National Recovery Plan.

“It has strong potential for business and employment growth over the next few years. The implementation of the report’s recommendations will help ensure that education and training provision is optimally aligned to the future skills needs of businesses in the sector and assist people in making an informed decision around potential employment opportunities and their career choices.”

Six sub-sectors – renewable energies; efficient energy use and management; water and waste water treatment; waste management, recovery and recycling; environmental consultancy services; and green ICT applications and software – were identified in the study as having business and employment growth potential.

Una Halligan, chairperson of the EGFSN, said the green economy was “a sector with employment growth potential at all occupational and skills levels” and believes it could create work for “operatives, skilled workers, sales and office staff, technicians, managers, professional engineers, scientists and business professionals”. 

Key findings from the report include:

  • The sector employs 18,750 people with a market size estimated at €3.05bn.
  • There are strong global and domestic drivers of growth positively impacting on the sector; including climate change commitments and environmental regulations and directives.
  • The global market for environmental goods and services is currently about €1,100bn. It is anticipated that global spending could reach €1,900bn by 2020.
  • A key challenge for Irish indigenous companies will be to increase the value of their exports estimated at €370m, currently representing 20pc of total sales.
  • Job opportunities would arise within all skills levels.
  • Key skills requirements include the development of core business, engineering and ICT skills with additional expertise acquired through “add-on” specialism modules.
  • Sixty per cent of the companies surveyed stated they had a current skill gap. 
  • There are a range of generic competences important across occupations – entrepreneurship, math proficiency, commercial awareness, foreign languages, finance, marketing, creativity and innovation, problem-solving and communication skills.

The report also recommends aligning education, enhancing management development, building engineering business skills capability, and developing technicians skills capability.