Ontario’s cleantech sector came to Queen’s Park on October 25, as teams of representatives from the member companies of the Ontario Environment Industry Association (ONEIA) spent the day meeting with members of the Ontario Legislature, senior staff and other provincial decision.
“These were some really solid discussions,” said ONEIA Executive Director Alex Gill. “The technologies and services our members provide are driving a low waste, low carbon revolution, while supporting more than 65,000 high quality jobs. This is a message that our policymakers need to hear – and we need to hear their concerns about the economy and the environment.”
The day marked the 16th annual Environment Industry Day for the Association, which has represented Ontario environment and cleantech companies since 1992. Following the morning’s outreach meetings, participants gathered at the Charbonnel Lounge at St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto to explore some of the barriers to growth in the cleantech sector and the challenges in creating more jobs.
Serving on the expert panel were Linda Franklin (CEO of Colleges Ontario and head of the Ontario Workforce Shortage Coalition), Robyn Gray (Sussex Strategy Group), Peter Klaassen (VP of Tetra Tech) and Mike Myers (Founder and CEO of Aslan Technologies). Moderated by Derek Webb (CEO of Biorem Technologies) the panel shared their experiences and discussed options for maximizing job creation in the cleantech sector. “Small companies like ours need high quality people to do high quality jobs,” said Mike Myers.
“Today, companies are looking for senior consultants that have experience and can pull in business quickly,” said Peter Klaassen. It’s hard to train young people on the job, he added, noting that when the domestic economy falters, cleantech companies must rely on exports. “That means you need people who speak the language and understand the culture of your offshore markets.”
To identify the future job needs of the cleantech sector, Linda Franklin said we need better data on the skill sets they are looking for. “As the baby boomers retire, there is going to be a war for the next generation of available talent, she said.
Minister praises contributions of cleantech
During the evening reception in Queen’s Park, the Hon. Glen Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, told a packed room of ONEIA members and guests that he believes “our pursuit of a waste-free and low-carbon future can only succeed through shameless capitalism.”
The Minister then discussed a number of cost efficient, cleantech innovations – developed in Ontario and marketed around the world – that are cutting waste and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “The people in this room are working at the intersection of profitability and sustainability,” Murray said. “What you are doing as a sector is the antithesis of the throw-away culture.”
The success of this year’s Environment Industry Day was the result of more than four months of intensive planning by the organizing committee, the logistical work of ONEIA’s staff and volunteers, and the support of our members. The afternoon panel discussion was sponsored by Progressive Waste Solutions, the networking session and coffee break that followed by Fielding Environmental, and the evening’s reception by Terrapure. A full list of other event sponsors, friends and supporters is available at HERE.