one of the first priorities in skills response strategies

‘Greening’ Ireland’s Economy – Will Somebody Please Get Real ?

2011-11-21:  The International Labour Office (ILO), in Geneva, and the European Union’s Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) … have recently published a Joint Report: ‘Skills for Green Jobs – A Global View’

The vision is positive … its advice is practical … and the writers actually sound as if they know what they are talking about.  And it is evident that the word ‘green’ is used, in this Report, as a simple means of communicating the far more complex concept of ‘sustainable human and social development’, with all of its many different aspects.  Judge for yourself by reading the extract from the Executive Summary below.

This Report’s contents also complement, very neatly, what has been said here in many posts … concerning the institutional infrastructure necessary, in societies, to properly implement an effective response to policies of energy conservation and security, climate change and sustainable development.


WAYS FORWARD  [ Pages xxiv to xxvi, Executive Summary, ILO – EU CEDEFOP Report: ‘Skills for Green Jobs – A Global View’ ]

It is important to remember that skills are not a poor servant of the economy, expected merely to react and adjust to any change.  The availability of a suitably trained workforce capable of further learning inspires confidence that in turn encourages investment, technical innovation, economic diversification and job creation.

Policies Need to be Informed, Coherent and Co-Ordinated

When policies to green the economy and policies to develop skills are not well connected, skill bottlenecks will slow the green transformation, and potential new jobs will be lost.  Strategic, leadership and management skills that enable policy-makers in governments, employers’ associations and trade unions to set the right incentives and create enabling conditions for cleaner production and services are an absolute priority.

Environmental awareness as an integral part of education and training at all levels, introduced as a core skill from early childhood education onwards, will eventually push consumer behaviour and preferences and the market itself.

Labour market information for anticipating and monitoring skill needs for green jobs is the critical starting point for effective policy cycles.  This enables governments and businesses to anticipate changes in the labour market, identify the impact on skill requirements, incorporate changes into the system by revising training programmes and introducing new ones, and monitor the impact of training on the labour market.

The country studies that told the most successful stories prove the value of effective co-ordination among line ministries and social partners, achieved by creating task forces for human resource development for a greening economy, or by incorporating training and skills issues into a council for environmental development.  It is important that the platform for this dialogue has decision-making authority, can establish clear commitments among all those partners involved and allocate human and financial resources to them, and has agreed responsibilities not only for planning but for implementation.  A win–win situation can only be achieved if environment, jobs and skills are discussed, planned and implemented in conjunction with each other.

Decentralized approaches can actually promote policy co-ordination and coherence at sectoral and local levels.  Direct dialogue between national and regional governments and social partners can be translated into action when commitments and resource allocation occur at a smaller scale and where immediate dividends are obvious for all partners involved.  A good combination of top-down co-ordinated policy-making with bottom-up sectoral or local initiatives can support effective training-intensive green transitions.

Policies Need to be Targeted

The transformation to greener economies provides an opportunity to reduce social inequalities.  Social justice dictates that training initiatives target those who lose jobs during the transition, especially those who are typically at a disadvantage in the labour market and may require special assistance.  The growth dividend from greening the economy will be attained only if access to new training provided as part of green measures is made accessible to disadvantaged youth, persons with disabilities, rural communities and other vulnerable groups.  Incentives to increase women’s participation in technical training programmes will not only increase their participation in technology-driven occupations but also help solve the skill shortage problem in this segment of the labour market.

Green Transitions Affect the Entire Training System

Taking into account all three types of skills change – that resulting from employment shifts within and across sectors as the consequence of green restructuring, that associated with new and emerging occupations, and the massive change in the content of established occupations – it becomes clear that the whole training system must be mobilized.  Adjusting training programmes to green changes in the labour market is a transversal task across levels and types of education and training.

So far, compulsory level and tertiary education have been catching up rather well, whereas technical and vocational education and training has been lagging behind in adapting to the needs of the green economy.  Improving adjustment here can give new impetus to employment-centred and fair green transitions and requires the following key challenges to be met:

  • Putting basic skills high on the policy agenda, as a foundation of flexibility and employability throughout the life cycle ;
  • Matching classroom and practical training through apprenticeships, internships, job placements, projects on the job etc ;
  • Adjusting the length and breadth of training provision according to different types of skills change ;
  • Equipping teachers and trainers with up-to-date knowledge on environmental issues and on green technologies – education and training which deals with preparation of teachers and trainers should be one of the first priorities in skills response strategies ;
  • Enabling active labour market policy measures (ALMP’s) to take into account green structural change and to provide access to relevant training and other employment activation measures ;    and
  • Deploying public employment services (PES), as important players in job matching and training, to raise awareness about green business opportunities and related skill needs.

The linchpin of effective skills development for greening the economy is co-ordination.  The degree of co ordination between public and private stakeholders and the degree of involvement of social partners are decisive.  Concerted measures need to be undertaken by governments at different levels, including the community level, employers and workers, through institutional mechanisms of social dialogue, such as national or regional tripartite councils, sector or industry skills councils, public–private partnerships and the like.

Developing Countries Need Special Measures

Developing countries, and the workers and employers in them, have the least responsibility for climate change and environmental degradation but suffer their economic and social consequences disproportionately.  Special measures that can speed their employment-centred green transformations include:

–   capacity building for employers in the informal economy and micro- and small enterprises to enter green markets in localities where they are most needed ;

–   entrepreneurship training and business coaching for young people and adults to start up green businesses in conjunction with micro-finance projects ;

–   environmental awareness among decision-makers, business leaders and administrators as well as institutions of formal and non-formal training systems ;

–   capacity building of tripartite constituents to strengthen social dialogue mechanisms and to apply these to dialogue about accessibility of training for green jobs ;   and

–   increased capacity of formal education and training systems and institutions to provide basic skills for all and to raise the skills base of the national workforce ;  this includes improving apprenticeship systems and building synergies with NGO’s that provide education and training.

These measures can only be taken if resources are available.  It is therefore recommended that not only national governments but also international partnerships in developing countries take these recommendations into account both in environment programmes and in skills development programmes.



Ireland was not one of the countries examined in the ILO / EU CEDEFOP Project.  That should tell us a lot !

BUT … just pause for a moment … and meditate on the many skill-related issues arising from the debacle at the Priory Hall Apartment Development, in Dublin.

AND NOW … read the following extracts from recent Irish National Reports … ‘high notions’ from goats in the Kerry Mountains …

The Overarching Vision – Forfás Report: ‘Future Skills Needs of Enterprise within the Green Economy in Ireland’ (November 2010) …

” For Ireland to be the benchmark ‘smart green’ economy for population centres under 20 million by 2015 – and to have the skills base and talent to drive innovative and high value products and services and maximise future business and employment growth potential.”

Final Paragraphs, #7 Conclusions – Review of National Climate Policy (November 2011) …

” In the wider-international context, there are also encouraging signs of a new ‘green growth’ paradigm which emphasises resource efficiency, the protection of natural resources and competitiveness along with the creation of new jobs.  A long-term view of how Ireland aligns its economic development with the demands of the growth engines of global commerce should be at the core of a low-carbon development vision.  In order to create enabling conditions for selling into these markets, many of which are already gearing up for the green economy, it will be necessary to ensure that the domestic conditions are right to encourage innovation.  This can be done by showing environmental ambition and using tools that allow the market to identify solutions.  That will require a combination of taking the best of what is working in other countries as well as devising domestically appropriate policies that will place Ireland in the vanguard of countries making the most of the opportunities presented by the green economy.

In terms of a long-term national vision of a carbon-constrained world, Ireland is faced with both the challenge of addressing a unique greenhouse gas emissions profile and the opportunity to position itself as an enlightened society with an environmentally sustainable and competitive, low-carbon economy.  Developing the policies to put Ireland on a clear and definite path to achieve that vision is the immediate priority.”


Who Are These Moráns ?!?   Will Somebody Please Get Real !?!




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