‘Green’ firms fight the recession

Wind farmThe environmental technologies or “green” sector is showing greater resilience to the recession than the manufacturing sector as a whole, according to recent skills research by the West Midlands Regional Observatory.

The environmental technologies sector comprises companies concentrating on renewable energy, pollution monitoring and waste management, amongst others. Although the sector has been adversely affected by the recession, companies are fairing better than their counterparts in other sectors.

Thirty eight per cent of “green” companies saw a turnover increase in the first quarter of 2009, while thirty four per cent reported a decrease – a positive balance of four per cent. This compares to a negative balance of nearly fifty per cent across the wider manufacturing sector.

Looking at profits, twenty eight per cent of environmental technologies firms reported an increase in profit, with thirty four per cent reporting a decrease. Whilst this is a negative balance of six per cent, it is a much stronger performance than the negative balance of fifty percent across the whole manufacturing sector.

Market conditions for the region’s environmental technologies firms are more favourable than across the manufacturing sector as a whole. Sales and orders, both for home and export markets, are all showing a lower decrease than for those in wider manufacturing.

As a result, job cuts in the sector have been less severe and there remains a demand for staff with specific skills, such as engineers, environment professionals and technical analysts.

Many environmental technologies firms recognise they may lack the skills and knowledge needed to fully capitalise on market opportunities, and are making significant investments in training in order to develop their workforce.

Rosie Paskins, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Regional Observatory, said:

“It is encouraging that the proportion of environmental technologies firms providing training for their staff, and taking a strategic approach to the planning and funding of training, is higher than in many other sectors.

“Investment in workforce training remains critical if West Midlands businesses are to have access to the skills they need to survive the downturn.

“In response to the needs of the region, the Observatory is producing regular updates on the impact of the downturn on the region’s skills and labour market. These will help guide policy makers and businesses in an ever-changing economic climate. The updates will be published on our website at www.wmro.org.”


Notes to Editors:

  • Based at Birmingham’s Millennium Point, the West Midlands Regional Observatory was established in 2002 to provide decision makers with high quality, independent information on the region.
  • The Observatory is the source for West Midlands regional facts and figures to underpin policy and strategy decisions.
  • This initial report details emerging findings from an on-line survey recently conducted by the Observatory. The full Environmental Technologies Report will be published in late June/early July 2009 and will be available from http://www.wmro.org.
  • The West Midlands Regional Observatory is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund.

For further information please contact Oliver Nicholls at the Observatory on 0121 503 3313, 07525 703 137 or oliver.nicholls@wmro.org.

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