Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Project: Skills for greener jobs in a local labour market context


A LEED policy innovation project for 2013-2014

Following-up on 2011-2012 OECD LEED analysis on
 Measuring the potential of green growth: Indicators of local transition to a low-carbon economy
within the framework of the OECD Green Growth Strategy

The project is conducted in collaboration with the OECD Working Party on SMEs and Entrepreneurship (WPSMEE), the Directorate for Environment (ENV), the Directorate for Education (EDU), the Development Centre (DEV), the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) and CEDEFOP


RationaleIssues / Methods / Participation / Outputs / Contact


This study will analyse how selected local areas/industry clusters identify the specific skills needed to support green growth and how related skills policies and practices can be made more effective in supporting their provision and accelerating transition to a low-carbon economy.



A transition to a low-carbon economy is only possible by developing the skills, knowledge and competences required by resource-efficient, sustainable processes and technologies; and integrating these into our businesses and communities. Different green skills, the right mixture of transversal and specific, are needed by different industry clusters. While a significant body of knowledge has been developed on the transversal skills (critical thinking, collaboration, communication through new technology), less is known about the industry-specific skills needed to speed up transition to a low-carbon economy. Early identification of those is likely to play a significant role in the seizing of sustainable development opportunities locally.

It is challenging to predict the overall employment impact of greening jobs and skills among others due to the unpredictability of future policy choice and uncertainty about the speed of their implementation at national and local level. Despite this, it is clear that the transition to a low-carbon and resource efficient economy will require changes in employment in a number of green economic activities including terrestrial and marine renewable energy, energy efficiency, transport, low-carbon infrastructure and low-carbon food production. Efforts to identify types of employment and the skills needed that are particularly critical to achieving green growth are valuable for guiding labour market and training policy (at national and local levels) particularly in the context of emerging large scale sectors such as marine renewable energy.

Unemployment risks are especially high for workers in the most high carbon emitting or polluting industries. Ten industries emit around 90% of EU emissions and account for 16% of total employment, with the shares ranging from approx 10% in Denmark to nearly 30% in Poland. The workforce in several carbon-intensive sectors such as electricity sectors and chemicals is highly skilled, whereas low skilled are overrepresented in agriculture, mining and inland transport. Thus, a greening economy will have diverse impacts locally depending on the industrial structure and the choices made, precluding a one-size-fits-all solution. Equipping workers with the right skills is not only necessary to generate greener output but is equally necessary to ensure that the workers can find high quality jobs, especially if displaced from high carbon emitting sectors.


Issues to be addressed

The project will address the following policy issues:

-  Measuring skills progression of different local industrial ecologies towards a low-carbon economy;

-  Analysis of skills needs in low-carbon work ecologies of high concentration of environmental goods and services industries and ‘natural capital’ assets;

-  Analysis of skills needs in high-carbon work ecologies of high concentration of carbon-intensive industries;

-  Analysis of skills needs, provision and utilisation in multi-sector geographical contexts - coastal regions and the emerging low-carbon ‘blue’ economy as an engine of local growth.



-  The project will undertake a survey of SMEs to identify industry skills specific for low-carbon development and the factors that determine the firms’ ability for acquiring or developing these skills and how they relate/impact their innovation processes for new products, services or management practices. A survey protocol would be developed in collaboration with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in collaboration with statistical agencies in selected countries. Methods such as the Policy Delphi technique will be used to iterate and refine responses and clarify issues of consensus.

-  The project will also undertake 6 in-depth case studies of selected firms in green sectors and compare results with survey outcomes. The analysis of the local skills ecosystem where the firm is located will aim to indicate how business organisations, education and research institutes, public institutions and public-private partnerships are addressing the changes facing their local economies and labour markets. Case studies from developing countries will be included as well as cases of particular geographical contexts such as the ‘ocean economy’ that have ramifications for developing and developed economies and where local skills ecosystems play a significant role for green growth.



Interested countries and organisations could provide voluntary contributions towards the cost of the project, the organisation of workshops, case study analysis, policy brief and synthesis report.




-  Boosting Greener Jobs in Flanders, BELGIUM
-  Boosting Greener Jobs in GREECE (Forthcoming)
-  Boosting Greener Jobs in Pomorskie, POLAND (Forthcoming)
-  Boosting Greener Jobs in Western Cape, SOUTH AFRICA (Forthcoming)

Three policy briefs with concrete policy analysis and recommendations to the national and local levels accompanied by guidelines for local institutions and firms will be prepared, on the following themes:

(1) Policies for greening jobs and skills 1: Skills for greener jobs in green industrial ecologies (e.g. renewable industries);

(2) Policies for greening jobs and skills 2: Skills for greener jobs in carbon-intensive industries (e.g. chemicals, coal); and

(3) Policies for greening jobs and skills 3: Skills ecosystems for a low-carbon ‘blue’ economy (oceans and coastal communities).

These policy briefs will be disseminated through a dedicated interactive website platform, the OECD i-library and at selected workshops and seminars as requested.

-  The results and the synthesis report will be presented at the OECD-CEDEFOP Green Skills Forum on 28th February 2014 in Paris.



For further information about the project please contact Nathalie Cliquot at the OECD Secretariat.


NOTE: Policy innovation projects address important issues in the implementation of the LEED mandate. In 2013-14, building more and better quality jobs requires us to provide ways to make our training and education systems more flexible and agile locally; make skills systems greener to facilitate the seizing of green growth opportunities; build evidence at the level of local labour markets; tackle disadvantage in a context of resource rarefaction locally; adapt local economic strategies to an ageing labour market; nurture more inclusive entrepreneurship; and accelerate local growth.


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