Going Green: Preparing the UK Workforce for the Transition to a Net-Zero Economy

Greenhouse gas emissions have increased substantially since the Industrial Revolution, causing average global surface temperatures to rise to about 1.0°C above pre-industrial levels during the last hundred years (IPCC, 2018). The effects of the climate crisis, including rising sea levels, population displacement and extreme weather, are already being experienced around the world. Underlining its commitment to tackling the climate crisis, the UK has set a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The path towards achieving net-zero emissions requires a significant reduction in emissions over the next few decades across all the sectors that produce them.

A transformation towards a greener economy in the UK will lead to significant changes across sectors and occupations, which could increase inequalities between individuals, industries and regions. The shift to ‘green growth’ will be a significant challenge for regions with a major concentration of ‘brown sector’ industries, and for individuals currently working in these industries, while regions with a major concentration of ‘green sector’ industries will flourish. Although jobs may be lost or transformed in the brown sector, the ‘greening’ of the labour market will create new jobs in the green sector that could produce employment gains and prevent net job losses (ILO, 2015).

However, it is not clear which industries comprise the green sector or the brown sector; these categories can include different industries in different countries at different times (ILO, 2011). Recognising that the opportunities and risks vary by industry, a new taxonomy – the ‘Eco-Transformation of Industries Matrix’ – has been developed to quantify and gain insights into the level of risk for each industry and the related implications for employment and reskilling in the UK. This report provides a thorough examination of the scale of the challenge in the UK regarding employment and adult learning, and offers guidance about the actions needed to achieve an efficient, inclusive and fair transition to a net-zero economy. Based on data from various sources and data analytics, the report will:

— Classify industries in the UK based on the ‘Eco-Transformation of Industries Matrix’.

— Assess the impact of the green transformation on the labour market.

— Examine the role of adult learning in supporting a successful green transformation.

— Provide policy recommendations for a smooth transition to a green economy.

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Chosen by

Dora Meredith

Theme

Green Jobs

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