The manufacturing sector has been gutted over the past five years, with more than 140,000 jobs being lost in Ontario alone. But, as Tyler Hamilton wrote in his blog today, there is a skill and labour crisis in the energy sector. Hamilton points out that the energy sector is facing a significant shortage of skilled workers who are able to build, manage and maintain green technologies because many current managers, engineers, scientists and skilled workers are quickly reaching retirement age.
This is as true of more "traditional" energy companies like natural gas and nuclear energy companies. But it is probably more true for new technologies like solar, wind power and geothermal. Hamilton rightly points out that one of the challenges will be to transfer and upgrade skills from other sectors. The United States has been facing much the same challenge, and they're responding in some innovative ways. Venture capitalists, particularly from the high tech sectors are starting funds aimed at developing new green technologies. And there are new programs like the Clean Energy Fellowship Program being run by the New England Clean Energy Council, to recruit and develop repeat entrepreneurs from other sectors such as telecom, IT and life sciences and help them transition into the clean energy sector. Canada needs to develop similar programs and encourage the development of more VC funds for the sector. The government should be playing a role in facilitating these initiatives.