Experts evaporate in shifting field - Climate Challenge

05 May 2007Archived News Energetics in the News

PUBLISHED: The Australian - By Matthew Warren - Annie Carapetan, HR Executive, Energetics Pty Ltd, is asked by The Australian how the demand from business for services to tackle climate change has impacted on an industry already faced with a skills shortage.


AUSTRALIA'S fast-growing climate-change industry is facing a skills shortage as businesses look to manage their energy demands better and understand the risks and opportunities arising from a cap on greenhouse gases.

The sudden demand for this service sector -- akin to what happened in the dot-com boom -- means environment firms cannot find enough suitably qualified experts.

Recruiting by Energetics, the country's biggest consulting firm on energy efficiency, has swollen its staff to 70 employees. The number is limited only by the availability of talent, particularly in science and electrical and mechanical engineering.

Human resources manager Annie Carapetian said Energetics was so concerned about losing staff it insisted on a no-poaching clause in contracts even though most fees have not increased and salaries are modest in comparison with other professions.

Last year the firm recruited Tanya Fielder almost a year before she finished her post-graduate degree in environmental management. Ms Fielder toured the world for 15 years as a classical pianist before deciding to return to Australia to work in a practical way to address climate change.

``I am already project managing really interesting jobs that are cutting edge in nature and which, given my previous lack of experience in the field, is truly amazing,'' Ms Fielder said.

Gavin Gilchrist set up Big Switch Projects in 2000 to improve the environmental performance of buildings and has switched in the past 18 months from aggressive marketing to turning work away because of the shortage of energy auditors.

``What we need is an energy-efficiency industry plan,'' Mr Gilchrist said.

The sustainability reporting manager at KPMG Consulting, Gary Veale, said the firm was looking at recruiting overseas to fill its shortage of qualified environmental experts.

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