IT’S no secret that Scotland is facing a skills shortage at a time of extreme economic volatility due to Brexit, recovery from Covid and war in Europe.

And as if we didn’t need more bad news, add the climate crisis into the mix, the destruction of nature and the slow, slow progress on the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, then it’s never been more important to focus on investing in our workforce in terms of green jobs needed in the here and now and into the future.

So, here’s the good news – we are actually bursting with talent, expertise and experience, we’re rolling in abundant natural resources, and we’ve got the capacity and the will to address this skills issue and all the myriad opportunities inherent within that.

But it requires partnership, collaboration and much, much more than mere written targets or aspirations in order to drive delivery for measurable success.

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As we write, there’s some great work going on in this area, especially in terms of Scotland’s ambition as pioneers in the circular economy, which holds much promise for job creation in new green industries needed to realise this economic potential and address climate change and biodiversity loss – three wins in one.

At last week’s Holyrood Climate Emergency Summit, we were delighted to take part in a panel discussion on this very subject at the Circular Economy Expo, hosted by Zero Waste Scotland, alongside some really incredible SME innovators leading the way with their circular business models and new technological solutions on waste management and resource efficiencies.

From Reblade which is blazing the trail on the repurposing of wind turbine blade waste, to Kenoteq’s resource efficient, sustainable K-Briq for the construction industry, to MiAlgae’s recycling of co-products from whisky to grow omega-3 rich microalgae, these small to medium sized enterprises are crucial to our circular journey.

But without the skills and workforce available to grow their ambitions, without the ability to encourage people into these new areas and develop their careers, we’re in danger of missing the boat in Scotland in terms of domestic success and building resilience to the many challenges that lie ahead.

This is the reason we established Pattiesmuir Ltd – to address this skills gaps, or indeed skill mismatches, and to create tailored, accessible, and flexible support to enable a more diverse workforce to access these opportunities.

We intend to set up training solutions that take into account real-life concerns for people such as caring responsibilities, disabilities, personal commitments and financial barriers to these new careers.

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We're keen to tap into all age groups, from school leavers, to those looking to changeroles mid-career or try something completely new in their 40s or 50s.

We also intend to support the creation of jobs and new businesses in rural and island areas, which are home to much of Scotland’s valuable natural resources, and yet which face increasing deprivation and depopulation as people are drawn to jobs in our urban centres.

The skilled professions that we will need to develop encompass everything from new high-tech solutions, such as Reblade’s recycling of wind turbine blades, through to traditional industries, such as stonemasonry, where our domestic capacity has been almost completely lost.

These professions are essential to ensuring that we reduce the volume of resources we consume, we use them more efficiently, and that everything we use is recovered and reused or recycled. As Sam Chapman of Kenoteq noted, one day we won’t talk about “waste”, we’ll only talk about “resources” – an important shift in language as well as attitude.

Identifying new opportunities means embedding this understanding in companies and organisations.

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As our co-founder, Dr Keith Baker, said at the Circular Economy Expo, equipping staff with basic training in tools such as triple bottom line accounting would make them more aware of the need to make better use of resources, and lead to more innovations that would help drive the transition to the circular economy.

We need to create a story around the circular economy that helps people and businesses understand the need for the transition and the many benefits and wide-ranging opportunities it will bring. And this story must be transformative for people and nature.

This story is Scotland’s good news story. And we need to be making more of it.

Ali Anderson, Keith Baker and Abi Truebig are directors of Pattiesmuir Ltd. For more information, go to