Press Coverage

“Green Approach to job creation”

Sunday Business Post (1st February 2009)

By Dermot Corrigan

‘Green collar’ jobs are top of the agenda for US president Barack Obama, who has pledged to support employment in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is thinking along similar lines. His €500 million Innovation Fund Ireland, launched in December, made reference to a green deal, and early plans to introduce tax breaks to help make Ireland an ‘innovation island’.

‘‘We hope that the government remains faithful to its pledge to create tax breaks for companies working in the renewable energy and environmental industries,” said Andrew Molony, commercial director of Greenjobs.ie. ‘‘If it can entice some of the big green players to set up in Ireland, this will bring some much needed economic stability through the creation of green collar jobs. The presence of multinational companies and smaller independent companies will open up more options for Irish jobseekers.”

The tough times in which we live could help to create more environmentally friendly jobs. ‘‘People are now being forced to look at emerging markets for longer-term security as traditional industries are no longer providing viable sources of employment,’’ Molony said. ‘‘We are likely to see a massive demand for qualifications in environmental biology, renewable and electrical energy systems, environmental management and specialist fields within science and engineering.”

Policy approach

Martin Shanahan, divisional manager of Forfás, said that policy-makers at the highest level in Irish society were already keen to make Ireland a greener economy.

‘‘There is a significant awareness at a policy level of the possible value to Ireland from the green or environmental sector and its ability to create future jobs,” said Shanahan.

‘‘This is being reflected in the approach of the enterprise development agencies and education and training providers. ‘‘A joint report recently published by Forfás and Inter Trade Ireland showed that the environmental sector has the potential to become a valuable component of long-term economic development in Ireland. The value of this sector to the island of Ireland is growing and is currently estimated at €3.6 billion.”

Irish workforce

Molony said there was interest in environment-friendly jobs among Irish workers. ‘‘The Irish workforce is extremely keen to get involved in green industries,” he said.

‘‘Every day, we get people registering their CVs onto our site, which shows the level of enthusiasm out there. The slowdown in formerly dominant industries like financial services has forced the Irish workforce to look to alternative routes.”

However, the skills and qualifications of the Irish work force do not compare favourably with some of our European neighbours, Molony said.

‘‘Denmark and parts of Scandinavia are arguably five to ten years ahead of Ireland,” he said. ‘‘Ireland is in the fledgling stages of providing enough green’ courses and training programmes. It is, however, a huge growth area.

‘‘Dundalk IT, NUI Galway, UCD and Limerick ITare all now offering environmental themed courses, which is a clear indicator of the growing appetite for these types of qualifications.

‘‘There are also plenty of part-time courses like Building Energy Rate (BER) assessor courses and solar panel installer courses available to help people become more attractive to employers.”

Job creation

Molony said he expected green job creation in the medium term to be good quality and well paid.

‘‘We predict average annual salaries to come in close to €50,000, perhaps even higher while the skills set remains so scarce,” he said. ‘‘To attract the best applicants with the strongest qualifications and experience, it is vital to offer a salary that reflects the specialist training undertaken. However, as green industries develop, we envisage there being jobs created for all levels of skills and salaries.”

Shanahan said it was not just people with skills and qualifications in obvious green disciplines that would be attracted to green jobs.

‘‘There will be a requirement for people with some broad knowledge of the technologies, business acumen and management expertise to manage such multidisciplinary teams,” he said.

‘‘Companies involved in the production of environmental goods and services need all the other traditional supporting business functions such as finance, HR and marketing.”

Renewable energy

Conor McGennis, division manager - engineering & pharmaceutical, Sigmar Recruitment, said there was considerable demand from renewable energy companies for qualified candidates.

‘‘I would definitely say the energy and particularly the renewable energy sector will be a hugely progressive area over the next few years,” said McGennis.

‘‘Airtricity has shown the way forward and there are a number of start-ups within the renewable sector with potential in areas like wind and wave technology. The government, through Sustainable Energy Ireland, has a lot of companies in incubation, with links to academia.”

McGennis said he had come across candidates, with experience in more traditional engineering areas, looking to move into renewable energy.

‘‘Most engineers would agree that there will be fewer opportunities in manufacturing, and the number of jobs available in construction is very limited to say the least,” he said.

‘‘There is a shortage of well qualified electrical engineers in Ireland. People are doing additional courses, such as the Masters programmes in renewable energy. There is a flow towards that, as most people are aware that manufacturing is not going to be a long-term runner.”

Financial candidates

Among employers in the electricity sector, McGennis said there was growing demand for candidates with experience in financial services.

‘‘Companies like Airtricity, Wind Energy Direct and other slightly lower-profile private organisations, are looking for traders and analysts and similar jobs,” he said. ‘‘These would be for highly numerate people, not necessarily just engineers, but people more towards the trading side of things.”

Other sectors

Simon O’Brien, managing director of Honan O’Brien, said multinationals from other sectors with operations in Ireland, would more than likely switch focus to more environment friendly areas.

‘‘While there will be an increase in indigenous Irish companies, existing multinationals will also offer job opportunities,” said O’Brien. ‘‘Companies such as Siemens and ABB are likely to get involved in renewable energy and should offer great opportunities especially in research and development.”

Michael O’Leary, managing director of HRM Recruitment, said that smaller indigenous consultancy firms were actively recruiting people for ‘green’ roles.

‘‘Both our science and engineering divisions are recruiting for clients who are consultancy firms,” O’Leary said. ‘‘They are interested in people who have good experience in renewable technologies. The lead into a market tends to be in consultancies, where organisations buy the services first, and then tend to move in that direction.”

Shanahan said that a focus on energy efficiency would help stimulate demand for candidates in otherwise depressed sectors of the Irish economy, including construction and manufacturing.

‘‘There will be an increase in the demand for those who are qualified to install energy-saving technologies, such as biomass heating systems , geothermal, solar and photovoltaic panels, and who are capable of insulating properties to required levels,” he said.

‘‘There is now a much higher level of compliance required in the management of sites for all forms of development. The type of skills and knowledge associated with site assessment and waste management will be required both in the development of new sites and in the rehabilitation of old sites.”

“British executives lack the skills to lead the way”

The Sunday Times (18th January 2009)

Andrew Molony, founder of Greenjobs.co.uk

GREEN JOBS are the fastest-growing part of the market – it’s where everyone wants to work at the moment. The appeal is partly cultural; you can work in this area, have a social conscience and be seen as progressive. More importantly, it is stable. Nobody expects the bubble to burst.

At the executive level, Britain is lagging behind. British executives don’t have the skills in this area to take the top jobs and we are seeing a lot of them going to people from Scandinavia and other parts of Europe where they are about 15 years ahead of us. The experience they have in terms of corporate thinking, and at an engineering level in renewable energy, just can’t be replicated in Britain.

For executives who want to move over to work in the green sector it’s crucial that they demonstrate some kind of commitment to environmental issues. If you go for an interview, you will be asked. Use the skills you have and pair them up with a proven green track record.

“Big growth in green sector jobs forecast”

Irish Times (23rd January 2009)

By Pamela Newenham

EMPLOYMENT IN green sectors is on the rise despite an overall slowdown in the jobs industry, according to recruitment agencies. Jobs in green areas such as renewable energy will continue to increase over the next year, following rapid growth since the summer of 2008, according to Gary Barcoe, divisional manager at Stelfox recruitment.

“The creation of more and more companies in the green sector, such as wind farms and waste-water specialists has led to a strong demand for energy consultants, electric engineers.
Already we are seeing a shortage of people for these jobs,” he said.

Mr Barcoe said the demand for workers in the green sector has led to the company recruiting from abroad.

“We are sourcing people from Ireland and across Europe, and even relocating people from the UK.”

An increase in the number of people opting for solar power and geothermal heating in their homes has also led to the creation of an increased number of green jobs, according to Andrew Molony, commercial director of recruitment website greenjobs.ie.

He said the green sector is comparable to the IT sector 10 years ago, but believes “green jobs” will last longer due to their stability.

“Rethinking recruitment”

Two new recruitment websites are focussing on jobs in the green sector, and believe it’s an area that’s about to take off.

Green Business Review/Whitespace publishing Group (Autumn 2008)

By Linda Daly

Proof that green business can impact every sector is demonstrated by the fact that the recruitment market is now opening up to it.

In the past few years, the number of ‘green’ jobs in Ireland has risen as engineers, electricians and environmental consultants have been in high demand.

With this in mind a number of recruitment companies have turned their attentions to the green sector and opened up environmental divisions.

One of the first to do this in Ireland was Dublin-based Stelfox, which launched an independent company, GreenSearch, earlier this year.

Garry Barcoe, manager at GreenSearch, says there is a lot of demand across Europe for people to work in the green space, especially experienced staff.

“We saw a growing need for people with a background in renewable energy, and earlier this year we started putting things in place for a division purely specialised in the green space.”

Barcoe feels the green recruitment industry has great growth potential.

“It’s definitely a viable industry that we have at the moment. This is an area that can grow and can boom and can be our next step in our Celtic tiger economy.”

At present, GreenSearch has a staff of three, including Barcoe, but it is currently seeking more staff, and has opened up offices in the UK, with plans to go further afield.

Barcoe says while there is a strong demand for ‘green’ personnel in Ireland, the market is still in its infancy compared to other countries. Nonetheless, he says there is a clear need for certain professionals, especially engineers.

“That’s an area where there is a shortage of qualified candidates. From talking to companies their big fear is that fewer graduates are going towards the science subjects. It’s something I would recommend anyone to head towards.”

Operating an environmental recruitment industry means you have to look outside the box when it comes to recruiting yourself. Barcoe says GreenSearch hires recruiters who have a background in the environmental area.

At present, the company is focused on building a database of qualified candidates, which Barcoe says will take potentially six to 18 months to do. But, so far it has had a steady stream of positions.

The feedback for the firm has been very positive, he adds.

Meanwhile, GreenJobs.ie is another firm in the recruitment sphere. Launched in June of this year, it is Ireland’s first jobs-board website wholly dedicated to recruitment in the green industry. The site specifically targets candidates across all areas of the environmental and renewable energy marketplace, and is initially targeting those in the Irish and UK markets.

Andrew Molony, commercial director with GreenJobs.ie, says he and his partner have always had an interest in the environment and wanted to look at it from a business perspective.

“I’m coming from a recruitment background and one of the other directors is involved in a tidal energy background, so we combined our expertise,” he says.

Molony says the site is going well, and the company has been focusing on driving traffic to it.

“We’re housing more vacancies in the Irish environmental sector than other recruitment sites. From an employer’s point of view it’s very straight forward: you’ve got the opportunity to attract the best staff without having to pay a big agency fee.”

The directors at GreenJobs.ie have a global vision for the site. They have already established GreenJobs UK and GreenJobs Gulf, and they are breaking into a number of other markets. The company also intends to increase the scope of the site to include re-education resources for professionals such as engineers looking to get into the green market.

“It’s an area of the marketplace that’s growing, it’s getting bigger and bigger every year,” says Molony.

“We’re not green hippies here doing this purely for the environment, it’s a business opportunity as well. It’s about exploiting the opportunity but doing it right.”

Molony says Ireland is behind in developing the industry in comparison to our international neighbours, but, like Barcoe, he expects it to grow further.

“There are definitely a lot more people in the marketplace looking for positions. The green market is growing, not rapidly, but slowly and surely it’s progressively building.”

One thing that GreenJobs and GreenSearch have in common is that they both plan on donating 10pc of their profits towards environmental causes.

Barcoe says that GreenSearch’s goal for next year is to hit the million mark in turnover, which would mean as an organisation it would be donating €100,000 to environmental causes.

Perhaps this will be a necessary feature of ‘green’ companies who want to compete in the sector. It will certainly act as a good marketing tool and will be an important selling point for jobseekers and employers in the green sphere.

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