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Green Jobs

Volume 515: debated on Thursday 16 September 2010

17. If he will discuss with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills means of increasing the number of engineering courses available for those training for green jobs. (15511)

I can confirm that I am already working closely with my hon. Friend the Minister for Universities and Science to ensure that we have a flexible training framework that will deliver the skills required for the low-carbon economy.

The coalition Government have already taken clear steps to address shortfalls in low-carbon skills provision, including, as I said earlier, an additional £150 million deployed from savings to create a further 50,000 new apprenticeships, many of which will be in the new low-carbon sector.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his answer. My constituency is becoming known as one of the centres of the UK energy industry, and it is home to some of the many big-name employers in this sector. As a result, we have established what we call the Warwick and Leamington energy forum. One of its aims is to bring together industry and local skills providers to match skills to jobs to ensure that future demand for skilled employees can be met. Will he agree to meet members of the energy forum? What steps will his Department take to improve public awareness of innovations in green technology so that young people may be inspired to take up training opportunities that exist in this sector?

I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend’s constituents in the Warwick and Leamington energy forum, and I am very happy to work with him to highlight the exciting career path that this might offer. Raising awareness of green technologies is a vital part of the transition to a low-carbon economy. A number of programmes are run, including DECC’s low-carbon communities challenge, and funding to eco-schools, but, ultimately, it is the signals that come from the private sector that will really drive this agenda forward.

Although we would certainly support the importance of training to create green jobs, is not the reality that all this Government’s policies are about stunting growth, with measures such as the refusal of the loan to Forgemasters? There is no point in increasing training in jobs if we are not going to help to create an environment that will support business and the Government in creating those future green jobs.

The hon. Gentleman has very cleverly put his finger right on the key divide between the last, failed Government and the new coalition. We believe, ultimately, that the recovery, our wealth and new jobs will come from the private sector; Labour Members believe that all our jobs should come from the public sector. We will put in the framework, but wealth creation in the green economy will come from the private sector.