Renewable energy and jobs, a good mix for NSW

Sustainable property insiders say that NSW has stolen the march on its rivals with a forward thinking GreenSkills Taskforce to challenge the shortfall in the greening property industry.

The move follows the NSW Jobs and Green Skills Summit, held in March and has a budget of $5 million to encourage businesses to green up their workforce.

NSW climate change and environment minister, Carmel Tebbutt, said the high-level taskforce would develop an action plan to drive the training of the State’s workforce in green skills and drive green jobs.

A move to a green economy would provide job opportunities, create new jobs in the areas of renewable energy as well as in traditional industries such as plumbing, electrical and building, Ms Tebbutt said.

“A report by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the ACTU found that some 500,000 new jobs could be created in Australia by 2030 on top of the business-as-usual baseline. This could translate into an additional 180,000 jobs in NSW.

“We have asked the Taskforce to consider what can be done by government, business, the unions, educators and environmental and industry groups in this important area,” she said.

Members of the NSW GreenSkills Taskforce are:

* Leslie Loble – Department of Education and Training;

* Simon Smith – Department of Environment and Climate Change;

* Barry Buffier – Department of State and Regional Development;

* Kathy Rankin – TAFE NSW;

* Jack Dusseldorp – Dusseldorp Skills Forum;

* Sharan Burrow – Australian Council of Trade Unions;

* Matthew Warren – Clean Energy Council;

* Jeff Angel – Total Environment Centre;

* Paul Bastian – AMWU;

* Phil Freedman – Australian Conservation Foundation;

* Fiona Wain – Environment Business Australia;

* Phillip Gray – Marquis Bathroom Products;

* Adam Steele – Newcastle City Council;

* Hugh Saddler – Energy Strategies; and

* Craig Roussac – Investa.

Ms Tebbutt said the high-level taskforce would develop an action plan to drive the training of the State’s workforce in green skills and drive green jobs.

“We have taken the recent Jobs Summit’s recommendations on board and are moving forward with plans to grow our green skilled workforce.

“The Green Skills NSW Taskforce is a group of experts who represent a range of sectors. They have been hand-picked and charged with delivering a plan of action.”

Ms Tebbutt said the taskforce has been asked to consider what can be done by government, business, the unions, educators and environmental and industry groups to drive the green sector.

The taskforce will report to the Premier on priorities and recommended measures by June 2009.

As part of its Green Skills Strategy, the NSW government has developed a program to help businesses and communities make the transition to a lower carbon and more sustainable society.

The strategy combines five elements to support a NSW training response:

Environmental skills training

Funding for filling gaps in environmental skills in priority and emerging industries. Units of competence for environmental sustainability in nine industries have been identified for priority funding through the Strategic Skills Program.

Build capacity in the training system

The aim is to increase the number and range of registered training organisations in NSW that are ready and able to deliver environmental skills training. Training providers will be invited to take part in professional development activities.

Demonstration projects: green occupations

A series of demonstration projects will help increase the take-up of environmental skills training in key industry sectors. Demonstration projects will show how green workforce capability can improve environmental outcomes and productivity in critical occupations.

Green workforce business guide

The production of a green workforce business guide will provide ready access to information about learning opportunities for employers and individuals. The business guide will also contain information and tools to assist businesses to assess environmental training needs and opportunities, including links to licensing and regulatory requirements.

Supporting NSW Government environmental programs

Skill strategies to support programs that aim to reduce or remediate environmental harm, such as BASIX and the NSW Energy Future Action Plan.

For more information and a full copy of the strategy go to the GreenSkills website.

lblundell@thefifthestate.com.au