Dr Lukas Kleine-Rueschkamp
Coordinator – Local Labour Market Analysis,
OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities
Place-based actions are needed to deliver the green transition and leave no workers or places behind.
Climate action policies are transforming the world of work. Around 18% of workers are now doing green jobs in OECD regions. Across all sectors, a shift towards more sustainable and climate-friendly processes and production is affecting workers and firms alike. However, not all are reaping the rewards.
Inequalities to address in green transition
A recent report shows that more than two-thirds of green jobs (71%) are held by men and less than one-third (29%) by women. Large firms account for 31% of green jobs compared to 25% of other jobs, and large regional gaps exist between lagging and leading regions. Capital regions have the largest share of green jobs in 75% of OECD countries. Policy should drive the green transition, while addressing its uneven impacts — including its implications for different places.
Growing demand for green talent
Firms are suffering from labour and skills shortages, in particular for green jobs. In Europe, more than 80% of companies face green skills shortages. A lack of workers with relevant skills could hold back the green transition because it could impede the scaling up of green sectors and the development of new technology, including electric vehicle production, semiconductors and hydrogen solutions. Moreover, forecasts predict a massive growth in the demand for green talent as local communities and sectors such as energy, manufacturing and automotive transform.
Encouraging workers out of polluting
jobs or into other sectors is a priority.
Boosting local green skills
Governments need to rapidly redesign local skills systems to reach more people and places. Only 40% of adults participate in job-related training across the OECD, despite rapidly changing responsibilities due to the green and digital transitions.
Workers who would benefit the most are often much less likely to retrain or upskill. Workers in polluting jobs (ie. those that are concentrated in the most emission-intensive sectors) that might disappear or face significant change are 50% less likely to participate in adult learning than workers in green jobs.
There must be more access for vulnerable groups and incentives for employers and employees to offer and engage in adult learning. Training curricula should reflect changing job requirements and incorporate green skills.
Supporting career transitions and regional transformation
Encouraging workers out of polluting jobs or into other sectors is a priority. This could yield a triple dividend of job security for workers — addressing green skills shortages and avoiding a greater green gap between people, places and firms.