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Strategic skills needs in the low carbon energy generation sector: A report for the National Strategic Skills Audit for England 2010

The aim of this study is to provide an assessment of the skills needs in the low carbon energy generation sector to 2020 in support of the National Strategic Skills Audit for England 2010, undertaken by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. For the purpose of this exercise the sector comprises wind, marine, microgeneration, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear sub sectors. This report presents the findings of the assessment which, while discussed in further detail below, are that: • The sector is currently relatively small scale in terms of direct jobs, but has a great deal of potential for growth; • Current and projected shortages of skills in the sector, particularly in relation to STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), means that the low carbon sector will need to compete for STEM graduates with industry as a whole; • Wind and nuclear will be the most important sectors in driving growth between now and 2020, but barriers such as access to financing and planning are significant; • Marine and carbon capture and storage are unlikely to contribute materially to employment in the period to 2020, but are more likely to come to fruition post-2020; • The extent to which new jobs will necessarily be generated throughout the value chain in the medium-term varies by sub sector. In the wind and nuclear sectors, it is likely that there will be relatively large numbers of jobs created in construction and installation, given the ambitious plans for installing new capacity to 2020. However, there is less likelihood of significant numbers of manufacturing jobs; • There is considerable potential to exploit skills transfer from other industries such as the upstream oil and gas industry to low carbon energy generation, which will also help to minimise the potential impact of a decline in employment within carbon intensive energy generation or nuclear power; • There is no clear evidence that technical jobs in the sector will change markedly over the next decade – rather, differences are likely to emerge by degree; • There is a lack of official national statistics on the low carbon sector and the on-going debate over what constitutes a ‘green job’; and • Government will play a critical role in how it seeks to stimulate demand with incentives, but also in how it can remove barriers that could otherwise hinder growth.