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Low Carbon Sector Mapping - East Midlands

What our client wanted

We were commissioned by emda to undertake a comprehensive mapping study of the low carbon sector across the East Midlands. The work built upon national and international research into market opportunities and skills needs in the sector and required a thorough and accurate understanding of its scale and characteristics.

What we did

The low carbon sector is not well defined using official business classifications. Therefore, a scoping exercise was undertaken to define the low carbon sector and establish a best-fit definition. Following this desk based exercise, an initial business survey was undertaken. This was a short, fact-finding telephone survey with more than 4,000 businesses across 23 sub-sectors of the low carbon environmental goods and services sector. The survey gathered a wealth of information on business activities within the low carbon sector, including from businesses that did not immediately recognise themselves as working within, or supplying to the sector. Inclusion/exclusion criteria were then applied before more detailed survey work was carried out with 1,000 low carbon sector businesses. This was designed to add further insight to the information already gathered on sector profile and characteristics. Key lines of enquiry for the detailed survey included:

  • Growth markets and new opportunities;
  • Expansion and diversification plans;
  • Supply chain issues and opportunities;
  • Business to business collaboration;
  • Management capabilities and styles;
  • Skills shortages and recruitment plans.

We developed a comprehensive directory of businesses working in the low carbon environmental goods and services sector across the region. Our final research report identified the strengths and weaknesses of each sub-sector and drew comparisons with equivalent work undertaken nationally and internationally. We presented forecasts for the future size of the sector and its likely contribution to the East Midlands economy.

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What difference we made

The study provided emda with a detailed appreciation of the scale, characteristics and plans of businesses operating in the low carbon goods and services sector, benchmarked against other relevant research. It filled a significant knowledge gap relating to a key strand of the region’s economic development, providing new information on opportunities for growth and the sector’s support needs.

Following the completion of the study and a very well received final report, we were awarded a subsequent contract to research in detail the specific skills needs of businesses operating in the sector. This project involved an in-depth telephone survey with 200 businesses, focusing on:

  • The skills required in each of their main occupational categories;
  • The qualifications held and required by employees;
  • Current skill gaps and shortages;
  • Training plans (current and future);
  • Expenditure on training.

From the results we mapped the skills of the current workforce against the future skills needs of employers and formulated recommendations for public sector intervention and support.

Our work on both of these studies has informed regional approaches to the development of the low carbon sector in the East Midlands. The mapping study findings are acknowledged in emda’s A Legacy Handbook for Low Carbon (http://www.emda.org.uk/uploaddocuments/LowCarbon_legacydoc.pdf) and influenced

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