Executive summary

Extreme weather, global heatwaves, and depletion of natural resources have pushed the need to speed up the transition to a greener economy to the forefront of the policy debate. Ensuring a more sustainable world for current and future generations is now more than ever a priority.

Policies fostering greener growth will trigger changes in the labour market with potential job creation in sectors such as renewable energy, organic agriculture, recycling of waste products, but also job losses in emission-intensive industries. They will also lead to considerable changes in skill requirements, both as a result of the emergence of new occupations and changes in skill needs in existing occupations. Even jobs in sectors not directly affected by the green transition will need to incorporate relevant transversal skills such as environmental awareness and sustainability. Policy makers will need to foster the move towards a cleaner economy and limit the personal cost for workers who will have to transition into new jobs or acquire new skills to stay in their jobs. Thus, investing in skills policies to help businesses and workers will be essential. Better skills assessment and anticipation (SAA) can help identify skill requirements both between and within occupations and ensure that the findings translate into effective policies.

This report sheds light on the key issues and methods involved in the design and implementation of skill assessment and anticipation exercises for the green transition and provides structured guidelines for policy makers. It relies on inputs from five OECD countries (Australia, Austria, France, Norway and Sweden), collected through a series of workshops, stakeholder interviews and collaborative consultations. It also incorporates numerous inspiring examples from other relevant countries. The key findings are as follows:

  • The use of skills assessment and anticipation methods for the green transition is still somewhat novel. So far, many SAA exercises have been one-off studies or irregular reports that have not been focused on the green transition specifically and have struggled to provide an up-to-date picture of the changing demand for skills. Many general SAA exercises do not incorporate clear green targets, such as decarbonisation or circular economy targets, among their assumptions. So far, there has been limited use of big data in these exercises making the results less detailed and timely.

  • Today, even as SAA exercises for the green transition emerge, much research focuses on employment projections, and the skill perspective is relegated to anecdotal observations or rather superficial investigation. One of the barriers to assessing the impact of the green transition on skills demand is the difficulty in defining the skills needed for the green transition.

  • In many countries, a lack of nationally determined targets and definitions has resulted in an ecosystem of SAA exercises with large variability in the focus of analysis and results. Many of these exercises are focused on a specific industry or sector rather than the whole economy. This makes it difficult to replicate the methodology for future studies in other industries. However, it is the most narrowly defined SAA exercises with precise targets that are the most likely to influence policies. The most valuable information is gathered at the industry level and many policy initiatives are sub-national interventions featuring local actors.

  • The fragmentation of SAA exercises, their irregularity and the complexity of the green transition mean that policy makers find it challenging to use the results from these exercises directly to design policies and programmes. In addition, most countries have a complex governance landscape where responsibility for policies related to skills for the green transition is shared across several ministries and public bodies with many expert stakeholders working in the field, which requires strong co-ordination.

This objective of this report is to provide an initial roadmap to respond to and prepare for changes in skill needs brought about by the transition to a greener economy. Chapter 1 summarises the key findings of the report in succinct guidelines for policy makers and researchers designing and implementing skills assessment and anticipation exercises for the green transition. The following chapters draw a picture of existing green SAA exercises and provide insights for the inclusion of skills intelligence in policy making. Chapter 2 highlights the importance of the skill perspective for the green transition, provides an overview of key concepts, and maps out existing SAA exercises in the participating countries. Chapter 3 delves into issues related to definitions, scoping, governance and funding of SAA exercises, while Chapter 4 discusses the advantages and disadvantages of different methodologies for assessing and anticipating skills. Chapter 5 presents recent innovations in the use of Big Data for SAA exercises for the green transition, while Chapter 6 provides policy makers with an overview of how the results of these exercises can be used to design policies. Finally, Chapter 7 investigates why it is challenging to use SAA results in policy making for the green transition and offers five success factors for doing so.

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