Today, the GLOBE Foundation released the third in a series of reports on building a greener economy in BC.
Today's report follows up on a report released last week that summarized the findings of an online survey of green employers. That survey suggests British Columbia could be facing a shortage of skilled and experienced 'green' workers over the next decade that could limit economic productivity and result in missed business opportunities.
The latest Regional Focus Group Summary Report is based on a series of focus group sessions that were held throughout the province between April and June 2010 with community and business leaders, academic experts, First Nations representatives, and municipal officials.
These sessions brought together a total of 82 participants and sought to uncover regional perspectives on provincial policy and labour market issues affecting BC's emerging green economy. Nine focus groups were held in total in the following locations: Victoria, Nanaimo, Burnaby, Chilliwack, Kelowna, Castlegar, Prince George, and Dawson Creek.
Despite regional differences in priorities, the key message was the same - a sustainable, greener economy in BC can only be built using integrated, longer-term policy approaches.
Many focus group participants felt there is a need for BC to better develop its domestic green market and create a coordinated demand or 'market pull' for green products, technologies, and services.
They suggested that through progressive, long-term policy measures, BC's relatively low-cost energy could be used to attract investment and to entice green companies and clean technology manufacturers to set-up shop in the province, creating more jobs as a result.
Other policy recommendations that surfaced during these sessions included a need for:
- More support for regional economic strategies, including workforce development and municipal self-sufficiency and for the development community-based renewable energy projects.
- Increased incentives for building a more robust domestic clean technology market, including a well-structured feed-in-tariff (FIT) program, tax incentives, and investment promotion measures, such as accelerated capital cost allowances.
- Better, more creative financing structures to fund clean technology development and to allow green companies to overcome the hurdles of commercialization.
- Increasing the carbon tax and using its revenues to fund green initiatives and to reward companies that reduce greenhouse (GHG) emissions would greatly accelerate the transition to a greener economy.
- Stricter regulations and stronger legislated targets in the green building sector to help lower GHG emissions.
- Streamlining regulatory processes to speed up approvals or denials on project proposals to help the private sector better plan for such projects.
- Better policy coordination between ministries and among all levels of government to progress toward economic sustainability.
- Better policies for attraction, recruitment, and retention of green workers in order to address looming labour supply shortages - especially within under-employed segments of BC's population including First Nations, women, and immigrants.
- Encouraging community colleges and post-secondary institutions to develop centers for applied research and to deploy clean and renewable energy technologies.
- More education and outreach to businesses and to the public at large to drive home the importance of sustainability.
- Making the K-12 education system a priority for advancing the future of the green economy.
- Implementing policies that help to reduce waste and encourage the deployment of closed-loop systems in production and waste disposal processes.
The Regional Focus Group Summary Report is one part of an in-depth study carried out by the GLOBE Foundation on BC's emerging green economy over the last year - work that has included:
- An analysis of more than 350 secondary sources on current low-carbon economies;
- More than 70 one-on-one interviews with the CEOs and owners of leading green and clean energy companies, as well as with the directors of major industry associations, government representatives, and presidents, deans, and instructors from many of BC's post-secondary and trades training institutions; and
- An in-depth online survey that reached out to green businesses to identify some of the challenges they are experiencing at present in securing qualified workers (Download the Survey Summary Report here)
Full findings from the study will be released in a detailed summary report that will be made available by GLOBE later in October.