Environmental technologies are an emerging sector in the south west. There are some 22,000 people contributing around £1,300 million to the regional economy. It is estimated that the sections of economy linked to the environment have the potential to develop a further 39,000 jobs and £670 million.
The geographical location of the south west makes it ideal for wave and wind energy production and it is estimated that around 1,100 people are currently employed in renewable energy in the region. A 2005 study found that there could be as many as 6,600 full time equivalent people employed in the renewables sector in the south west by 2010 and 17,400 by 2020. Its total contribution to the south west economy could be as much as £183 million by 2010 and £517 million by 2020. Regen SW is the primary south west support organisation for the sector.
The south west is home to the UK's first commercial wind farm, the first commercial centralised anaerobic digestion plan, the UK's first pryolysis plant and the world's first permanent off-shore tidal energy turbine.
University expertise is helping to ensure that the region is first for supporting the growth of environmental technologies through leading research and consultancy, high quality training and development, business focused students and laboratories and renewable test beds.
South west universities expertise in environmental technology and the level of skills in such businesses is very high, with approximately 80% of companies employing graduates and over half employing post graduates.
A quarter of businesses in this sector report skills gaps. These represent opportunities for graduates - it stands to reason that if you develop the skills that are in short supply, you'll enhance your job prospects. The most common skills gaps are:
Recycling, technical testing and analysis, manufacture of non-domestic cooling and ventilation equipment, collection, purification and distribution of water, demolition and wrecking of building, water construction projects, insulation of work activities, manufacture of electricity distribution and control apparatus, sewage and refuse disposal, sanitation.
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