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European Year of Skills
News article13 December 2023Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Navigating the Green Transition: Thematic Review Skills Insights on a "Fair Transition Towards Climate Neutrality"

The European Centre of Expertise (ECE) on Employment and Labour Market Policies recently released a Thematic Review focusing on achieving a "Fair Transition Towards Climate Neutrality." The report delves into policies, research, and social dialogue practices in EU Member States, aiming to ensure an equitable shift toward a greener future.

Fair Transition towards climate neutrality

The report provides a comprehensive overview, examining the impact of the green transition on the economy to date and anticipating future changes. It finds that most Member States choose to address the employment and social consequences of the transition through reskilling and upskilling policies, in some cases targeted to vulnerable groups.  

Skills Levels in "Green Jobs" 

Predictions for most Member States show positive employment effects due to investments in decarbonization and reduction in fossil fuels. The report suggests that aligning with the climate goals of the European Green Deal could bring about an additional 884,000 jobs in the EU by 2030. However, this hinges on the implementation of suitable accompanying policies, accounting for regional differences. 

Ongoing research in various Member States is assessing the level of skills required by these “green jobs”. The report highlights that those working in "green jobs" typically have a medium level of education in technical fields, but the skills landscape varies a lot across sectors and occupations. For instance, in France, 37% of employees in the sanitation and waste treatment sector have no baccalaureate, compared to 13% in the workforce as a whole. Conversely, roles tied to nature and environmental protection have above-average education levels, with 47% possessing a three-year tertiary degree or higher. 

The report notes that while a broad definition of green jobs at EU level has been proposed by Cedefop and a list of “green skills” can be found in the European Classification of Occupations, Skills, and Competences (ESCO), in practice, most Member States use multiple definitions, alongside international terminology. 

Employment and social policies to facilitate the Green Transition 

The report sheds light on Member States' policy frameworks, showcasing a notable emphasis on upskilling and reskilling initiatives for the existing workforce. Examples from 12 Member States illustrate diverse interventions, including financial aid for training, development of new training programmes, skills mapping, and incentives for employers. These initiatives vary widely in geographical scope, types of measures, financial scale, and target groups. 

A fair green transition also requires inclusive policies to enhance the access and participation of vulnerable populations in jobs contributing to climate, energy, and environmental goals. While most Member States integrate such support within general policy frameworks, some have dedicated approaches. Flanders (Belgium), for example, initiated the "1000 Klimaatjobs" project in July 2022, to create 1000 jobs in the social circular economy, specifically targeting individuals facing challenges in conventional sectors, such as persons with disabilities. Impressively, 450 of these jobs have already been successfully created. 

Conclusion 

The report underscores the vital need to seize the job creation opportunities arising from the green transition by addressing labor and skills shortages. It emphasizes the importance of robust support for upskilling and reskilling initiatives. To ensure a fair transition toward a sustainable and inclusive economy, equal opportunities and high-quality green employment are identified as crucial factors. Central to this objective is the promotion of skills development, especially for individuals in vulnerable situations. The report advocates for a comprehensive approach, emphasizing the significance of social dialogue and a whole-society perspective at all levels to deliver fair transition policies inclusively and effectively. 

For a comprehensive understanding of the subject, we invite readers to consult the full report. As the EU navigates this transition, the report's findings will be a valuable resource for policymakers, educators, and individuals seeking to thrive in an environmentally sustainable economy. 

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