400,000 new jobs but not enough skilled workers!July 6th, 2009 by Barry Potier
The Telegraph reported on Saturday that ‘A “green revolution” that should create 400,000 jobs is to be launched by ministers later this month in the most ambitious ever bid to transform the British economy, industry and sources of energy.’
Ed Miliband, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, will unveil a White Paper that will spell out how emissions will be cut by at least 34 per cent on 1990 levels by 2020 and a ‘Renewable Energy Strategy’ to increase its use to 15 per cent of Britain’s total energy supplies by the same date.
Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, will launch a ‘Low Carbon Industrial Strategy’ which the Government hopes will create 400,000 new jobs in environmental industries over eight years and “transform our whole economy and change our industrial landscape, our supply chain and the way in which we all work and consume.”
This sounds all very well in theory but nobody seems to be addressing the continuing problem of skills shortages. Take a look at the government’s latest shortage occupation list and you’ll see for example that we have a distinct shortage of geotechnical and geo-environmental specialists. And yet surely for these ambitious plans to get of the ground, these are the sort of people we’ll need.
Could one of the reasons for these shortages be that we have a shortage of maths and science teachers at secondary education level? Yes, they’re on the list as well.
If Peter Mandelson wants to create these 400,000 jobs over the next 8 years, somebody needs to rethink our education system and quickly. Graduates entering the workplace in 8 years time are now in secondary education and if current trends continue they will be steering away from science subjects.
We hear different numbers all the time and the truth is no-one really knows how many new jobs will be created. But whatever the number, there is a massive skills shortage and it can only be met by increasing the number of graduates and younger people coming into the Engineering industry in general and increasing this skill set across all industries and disciplines.
How can we achieve this? Is the answer to make science subjects compulsory, at least until ‘O’ level in the hope that more students will become interested enough to pursue them further? And what measures should be taken to help people already in the workplace upgrade their skills?
Unless we act quickly, all these ambitious plans will become nothing more than just plans that never come to fruition.
What should the government be doing to solve the skills shortage problem? We’d love to hear your views…