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It's time for Government to stop talking and start creating green jobs

Change - could this word currently be the most over-used?

Take the General Election: 'change this' and 'change that' were both stock phrases on the campaign trail.

In relation to creating green jobs, however, change is exactly what is required, and the Con-Lib Government needs to listen hard.

Speaking alongside other business leaders and MPs at the recent Green Collar Economy Forum, a debate held by renewable energy and clean technology provider Ultra Green on the issue of creating green jobs in the UK, Philip Dilley, group chairman of design and consulting engineering firm Arup, warned. "The Government needs to direct and support the major re-skilling and training of a number of people. The Commission on Environmental Market and Economic Performance talks about one in three firms in the environmental sector being hampered by a shortage of skilled staff."

So what is at stake? On the one hand, we have a manufacturing economy that is still the sixth-biggest in the world, but has nevertheless been in decline. On the other, the UK has the most extraordinary opportunities to tap into its natural resources to become a leader in green technologies. Their value is considerable. The New Economics Foundation estimates that a £10 billion investment into the energy efficiency sector alone could create 300,000 job years of employment. But what happens if we don't have the skills? What happens if the policy framework does not encourage a local market for green technologies? The Government must tackle these challenges immediately.

Antony Blakey, chairman of Ultra Green, hopes it won't take long. He believes politicians and officials will make or break green jobs. Speaking at the forum, he compared the UK unfavourably to the US. In the UK, finding funding is difficult, time-consuming and mired in red tape. In the US the focus is on eliminating obstacles to make projects happen, and fast.

Blakey is adamant HRDs can help the UK unlock its potential. "In the US, HR directors are actively involved in seeking ways to make their companies low carbon," he says. "Business owners need better margins and HR can help by providing focused employees whose remit is to cut costs on a larger scale, using the latest green technologies."

It's time for the new Government to stop talking and start creating green jobs in the UK. If Blakey is right, HRDs have a pivotal role to play.

Michael Saxton is founder of Greenpoint PR