There is a story, possibly apocryphal, that has been doing the rounds through clean tech companies for several years and relates how Bill Clinton first gave his approval to the embryonic sector.
It was at a press conference for one of his many Clinton Foundation initiatives, where the former president was asked what he would do if he was 21 again and did not want to go into politics this time round.
He responded that clean tech would be the sector for him.
Now, you can say what you like about the former president and possible future first husband (indeed most people already have; personal favourite, The Simpsons episode where he is quoted as saying "Hell, I've done it with pigs ... real no-foolin' pigs") but he is no one's mug and it is hardly surprising that in recent years growing numbers of ambitious graduates, executives and entrepreneurs have reached a similar conclusion as the Comeback Kid.
And yet despite the surge in investor and media interest surrounding the clean technology and green business sector it is fast dawning on many experts that the influx of skilled staff entering the sector is failing to keep pace with what is required.
This week the government acknowledged this fact, albeit tacitly, with the publication of a new strategy document designed to help develop the skilled workforce required to meet growing national and international demand for "green collar workers".
The move was welcomed by business groups, but as the CBI's Matthew Farrow observed it could have already come too late for some sectors, which are already beginning to feel "the pinch" when looking for skilled "green" staff.
If you take just one topical example, in the form of the offshore wind sector, you can understand the scale of the problem. From a virtually standing start the government wants 33GW of offshore wind capacity installed within the next 20 years, but at the moment there does not seem to be much idea as to where the people are going to come from to do that installing.
Bottlenecks in the supply of raw materials have been rightly highlighted as a major problem for the sector - driving up costs and contributing to Shell's controversial decision this week to exit the flagship London Array project - but bottlenecks in the supply of skilled staff are likely to pose similar problems as the sector continues to expand.
Wherever you look across the clean tech sector these same concerns are being voiced. The eventual roll out of smart grid technologies, for example, will require considerable skilled man power, as will the installation of solar farms and the auditing and enforcement of many firms' emerging green supply chain policies. And all that is before you look at the real high end technical and scientific skills that will be required to accelerate the development of the cutting edge technologies required to genuinely decarbonise the economy.
The government can of course help in addressing these imminent shortages, as can the growing number of CSR and sustainability courses being offered by academic institutions. Moreover, the market will play a key role as competition, and consequently salaries, for green professionals begin to rise.
However, it is worth noting that the amount of time it takes for people to develop new skills means that the job market is notoriously inelastic and it now seems inevitable that many clean tech sectors will face serious skills shortages over the next decade or so as governments and businesses struggle to meet their various carbon targets.
It is hugely encouraging that the capital required to fund clean tech projects appears to be in pretty abundant supply at the moment (Shell's cold feet notwithstanding), but capital is worth nothing without people to turn it into something useful and unless business and political leaders are willing to act soon there is a serious danger that the transition to a low carbon economy could be seriously harmed by nothing more than an absence of personnel.
Right, I'm off to write an angry letter to a tabloid newspaper about their climate change coverage.
Have a good weekend,
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