Environmental technologies skills in the West Midlands seminar roundup

Two workers install solar panels on a red roof

The Observatory held an event on 20th January 2010 to present findings from their environmental technologies skills review, which determined:

  • The relative importance of these industries to the regional economy and the profile of the workforce by gender, ethnicity, age and qualification attainment
  • Key developments in the sector, potential market opportunities and drivers of skills change
  • Current and potential labour and skill needs and any gaps and shortages
  • Investment in training and up-skilling by employers
  • The use of publicly funded, private sector and internally run training and any gaps or weaknesses in provision
  • Recommendations and actions to address any issues identified

Presentation of findings

Mick Feloy from Labour Market Solutions started with a presentation of key findings from the research, covering these key themes:

  • Growth potential and future prospects (in areas such as renewable energy and recycling)
  • Benefits of environmental technologies to the regional economy, such as increased employment and enhanced skills base
  • Key challenges for the sector – for example, overcoming recruitment problems and sufficient training support
  • Progress to date, including initiatives with schools and collaboration with the higher education sector
  • Need for an integrated regional response to include raising the profile of the sector as a career choice

Watch Mick’s presentation:

Listen to presentation | Get PowerPoint slides (ppt, 214kb)

Employers’ case studies

Three employers presented examples of case studies to demonstrate how business and the public sector are working together to meet the current and future skills needs of the industry.

Renewables skills – Converteam

John Hill of Converteam presented a case study covering typical skill disciplines, expertise and training routes for potential recruits at Converteam.

Listen to presentation | Get slides (pdf, 361kb)

Warwickshire College

The second case study was presented by Tony Parkin of Warwickshire College.

Tony focused on partnership working with related organisations such as Alsom Power (Rugby & Stafford), Babcock (Birmingham), Converteam (Rugby), Rolls-Royce (Ansty, Coventry), as well as a range of SMEs in the West Midlands.

Listen to presentation | Get slides (pdf, 885kb)

New World Solar Installations

Mark Clemson of New World Solar Installations Ltd gave the final case study. Mark outlined the job and training opportunities available at smaller organisations in the West Midlands.

Listen to presentation | Get PowerPoint slides (ppt, 8.3mb)

Question & answer panel session

The event ended with a question and answer session, with recommendations for further actions to take forward. The panel consisted of representatives from organisations including:

Here’s a summary of key messages from the event.

Role of Higher Education sector

  • The need to promote graduate support. For example, the Graduate Internships initiative has been created in the West Midlands to tackle the impact of the economic downturn on the region’s employers and graduates
  • There is a need to strengthen relationships and sponsorship with local environmental technologies companies in the future

Role of apprenticeships

  • The need to promote apprenticeships opportunities to students and companies
  • Progression routes are now available and there are increased links to higher education institutions

Links with Sector Skills Councils

  • Sector Skills Councils—such as Energy and utility Skills and SummitSkills—are working closely together to develop qualification frameworks (to include environmental technologies options) from September 2010
  • A Workforce Planning Model is also in preparation. This has identified priority skills for the sector such as technical and engineering skills.

Support and promote Academies

Improved communication is vital going forward

  • Still more information and awareness needed in all areas relating to environmental technologies, to promote the sector to future employees
  • Raise awareness of existing support, for example, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
  • Develop supply chain framework agreements

Related links

Image credit: photo by Wayne National Forest

One Response

  1. Covered by the BBC on their website today (16/02/10) – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/west_midlands/8517051.stm and later on Midlands Today regional news

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