Mandelson: environmental sector to provide 1m jobs by 2015

More than a million new jobs could be created in the environmental sector by 2015 and help to ease unemployment created by the UK's flagging economy, Peter Mandelson has said.

The new Business Secretary said on Monday that the environmental goods and services industry would be one of the major areas to provide new jobs as public sector recruitment slows down and the recession hits traditional growth areas such as retail and banking.

In a speech to the Jobs Summit, in London, Mr Mandelson said Government’s forthcoming proposals for a Low Carbon Industrial Strategy would include commitments to help the environmental sector expand and develop the right skills.

“This is going to be a fearsomely competitive sector,” he said. “To get there we will need a smart, strategic approach from government that makes sure that the business environment is absolutely fine-tuned to that outcome.

“That includes using things like government procurement strategies to help companies willing to take the leap to develop the expertise that will make them global leaders.”

He added: “The key is to put in place the right frameworks of public policy within which private sector decisions are taken.”

More than 800,000 people in the UK are employed in the environmental goods and services sector once you factor in the supply chain, he said, with most employed in the renewable energy industry.

But many thousands are also employed in emerging low-carbon areas such as alternative fuels and low-carbon design and development, as well as service industries such as environmental consultancy and carbon finance.

Other industrial areas will also be part of the drive to re-start the UK economy and make it more competitive with Europe and emerging economies such as China and India, Mr Mandelson said.

These include bioscience, precision engineering and advanced electronic manufacturing.

“Essentially we are talking about an industrial strategy that is rooted in the diversification of the UK economy and the deepening of its specialisms – where its comparative advantages lie in a changing global economy,” he added.

Kate Martin

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