The United Kingdom’s shift towards a green economy will alter the nature of existing jobs, not destroy them, but policy-makers will have to ensure that low- and mid-skilled workers are not left behind in a transition that will privilege the higher-skilled and better paid, says a new report.
As enhanced policy commitments and business plans accelerate the UK’s net-zero transition, some warn that decarbonization could produce as many job losses as deindustrialization during the 1980s, said Kathleen Henehan, senior research and policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, which co-authored the report with the London School of Economics.
But while some transitions into new jobs will be needed, “most workers will feel the net-zero transition through changes to the jobs they already do, rather than redundancies and completely new types of work,” said Henehan.
Distinguishing between highly-skilled, well-paid “green” jobs and lower-skilled, lower-salaried “brown” jobs, the report found that the 1.3 million brown-job workers in the UK are more exposed to transition impacts than others, writes The Independent.
“They include lorry drivers and energy plant operatives who will need to learn to drive different kinds of vehicles and produce different types of power,” the news story states.
The report authors urge policy-makers to focus on helping brown job workers prepare for the transition, either by ensuring that they are able to acquire new “green” skills within the jobs they already have, or through training programs that will make them eligible for new, higher-paying green jobs.
The report adds that the green work force currently skews white, with “more than 14% of white working-age adults” employed in green jobs, 6% more than their Black peers.