Renewable workers

OECD Observer

How will workers’ current skills match new requirements for labour in a green economy? So far, few countries have put in place real plans to address this question, yet there is risk of a significant mismatch between skills and jobs. Would you know who to call if your geothermal system crashes? Should construction workers learn new skills for retrofitting buildings?

With a bit of planning for the transition, Green Skills and Innovation for Inclusive Growth proposes that we can take advantage of this opportunity to diversify and improve employment. Following two OECD forums on the topic, Green Skills provides evidence and policy analysis to guide the green shift, with emphasis on the ways that better policy co-ordination among environment, economy and labour can minimise the skills gap and maximise employment growth. This builds on the 2014 report Greener Skills and Jobs, which outlined a three-part policy approach: i) upgrading skills in minimally impacted sectors; ii) gearing up educational institutions to teach the new skills needed for mitigation; eco-innovation and renewable energy, for instance; and iii) retraining in emissions-intensive sectors, which will be particularly affected by a shift to low carbon.

With the recent financial and economic crisis, greening the labour force has not been a high priority for most policymakers. This study shows that skilled jobs from the old carbon-intensive industries, such as engineers, electricians, analysts, fitters and marketers, will be largely transferable and adaptable to low-carbon energy sectors. Moreover, with some basic skills training or retraining programmes, production, construction, and other lower skilled workers can make the shift from fossil fuel sectors as well.

OECD-Cedefop (2015), Green Skills and Innovation for Inclusive Growth, OECD Publishing.  

See also: OECD-Cedefop (2014), Greener Skills and Jobs, OECD Green Growth Studies, OECD Publishing.  

©OECD Observer No 304, November 2015




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