Matching skills needs with skills reserves: Protecting workers & communities for a just transition

just transition

Climate change associated with carbon emissions represents one element of increasing global environmental dysfunction that requires action. This is no less true for Ireland, a climate laggard. At the same time, the effects of change tend to be unequally distributed and communities face significant disruption in the absence of public policy. The principles of a ‘Just Transition’ state that workers and communities at-risk from the transition should not disproportionately shoulder the burden of adjustment.

With these principles in mind, we identify workers in sectors and regions at high-risk in the transition and examine their skills profiles. It is difficult to identify those who will be most affected given the advance of technology and other factors, but we identify a particular high-risk population in workers in six sectors, which contribute close to 90 per cent of emissions but less than a tenth of employment. There is a strong regional dimension to where these sectors are concentrated. We also find evidence of significant mismatch in the Irish economy despite the presence of underutilized skills supply in the potential labour force that policymakers could mobilize for greener economic production.

We present an argument for more comprehensive participation by local actors in planning with an active approach to labour market policy based on international experience. We conclude with proposals to manage the transition in a way that ensures high quality employment for all, particularly for those bearing the brunt of adjustment.

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