Industry must act on ‘invisible’ jobs

Many of the jobs involved in the low carbon sector have been described as ‘invisible’ by an expert in waste management. Paul Levett, deputy chief executive of environmental services giant […]

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By Kelvin Ross at Base London

Many of the jobs involved in the low carbon sector have been described as ‘invisible’ by an expert in waste management.

Paul Levett, deputy chief executive of environmental services giant Veolia, told a seminar discussing the energy skills gap last week that many children and students are simply unaware that such jobs exist, and stressed that closing the skills gap must start in the classroom.

He said children must be made aware of the job opportunities in the low carbon sector, and that meant raising their profile.

Comparing these jobs to ‘visible’ ones such as a teacher, bus driver or policeman, he explained: “There are a lot of invisible jobs in the low carbon economy. No-one says, ‘I want to run a recycling plant’.”

However, Mr Levett also said that closing the skills gap was not all about first jobbers with new skills. “Most of the 2020 workforce is already in employment,” he said. “Companies must decide whether they want to be trainers or poachers… or both.”

Mr Levett said that with waste plants set to see a boom time in coming years as new methods of energy recycling come on stream, the need in his sector for more civil engineers was vital.

Jacqui Wordsworth, senior project manager at the London Development Agency, said that existing research and development courses in London’s colleges and universities meant that “our innovation potential is huge within this city”.

However, she stressed that more needed to be done in providing training for renewable technologies such as solar hot water and PV, heat pumps and especially rainwater harvesting.