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Wednesday, 15 October 2014 15:08

Skills gap 'storm' hinders UK companies confidence to prosper in a sustainable economy

A skills deficit in environment and sustainability currently facing the UK workplace is likely to limit the country's ability to compete and prosper in a sustainable economy, research has revealed - so a campaign has been set up to blow away the gathering 'perfect storm'.

IEMAskills1Only 13% of companies polled by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA) are fully confident that they have the skills to successfully compete in a sustainable economy. 

IEMA's research also discovered:

· The Leadership gap
- Only 25% of leaders, and 20% of senior managers, are fully capable of addressing the sustainability agenda.

· The Funding gap -
In 72% of organisations, investment in environment and sustainability skills is less than for other disciplines with 63% of organisations spending less than £100 per head on environment and sustainability training each year.

· The Strategic challenge -
65% haven't carried out a strategic evaluation of skills needed to successfully compete in a sustainable economy.

· The Recruitment gap -
Over half (53%) of organisations are unable to recruit environment & sustainability professionals with the right skills.

IEMA feel strongly that this situation needs to change, so today they have launched a campaign "Preparing for the Perfect Storm: Skills for a Sustainable Economy", marking this with the publication of a special report on the skills deficit, and a call for collaborative action on this critical issue.

The point out the global economy is heading towards this perfect storm – with business now facing pressure on all fronts. By 2020 the world economy could be facing a supply deficit driven by global mega-trends, including; population growth, increasing demand for natural resources, soaring costs of energy - together with the impacts of climate change and ecosystem degradation. All are combining to pose significant challenges to the long-term success of business and the global economy.

The evidence is building that a sustainable economy can deliver significant opportunities for business – recent IEMA research has shown that businesses both small and large can save money through more efficient use of resources from £5,000 to over £1m per year; and CBI research has also indicated that over one-third of UK economic growth was from green business.

IEMAskills2"In the new business world, environment and sustainability can no longer be a bolt on, it needs to be part of businesses' DNA. IEMA is launching its campaign "Preparing for the Perfecting Storm – Skills for a Sustainable Economy" to shine a light on this issue and catalyse action to address the skills deficit. Businesses need to urgently turn what is a growing and prevailing list of challenges into opportunities. The most effective way of grasping this opportunity is by ensuring that all businesses have access to a new set of skills – environment and sustainability – to ensure that UK plc and businesses globally can transition and survive in this new economy," said Tim Balcon, CEO, IEMA.

The report "Preparing for the Perfect Storm: Skills for a Sustainable Economy" also features case studies of Environment & Sustainability professionals, detailing how their skills have enabled their organisations to save money and carbon, reduce waste and create new revenue streams. The report also includes case studies of five household name organisations – Ricoh, Network Rail, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce and PHS Group - who are demonstrating great commitment – and benefitting from – investment in environment & sustainability skills.

IEMA's campaign has brought together a growing number of businesses, organisations and individuals to raise awareness of this issue including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, EDF Energy, EY and Saint-Gobain to collaborate and catalyse action on this issue.

Visit to download a copy of the report.