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Preparing the Workforce for the Low-Carbon Economy

A Closer Look at Green Jobs and Green Skills

01.11.2023 by SEA-VET Admin SEAVET ADMIN

Alexander Tsironis

Asian Development Bank

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This brief explores the occupations and skills likely to be needed for green jobs in Asia and the Pacific. It looks at how policymakers can help prepare workforces for the transition to a low-carbon economy and  sets out definitions of green jobs and outlines likely growth areas.

It notes that technical and medium-skilled occupations are expected to be in high demand and looks at emerging roles. It suggests how governments can help address education gaps and speed up the development of a workforce ready for the green economy of the future.

The Asia and Pacific region is highly exposed to the effects of climate change. Six out of the top ten countries in the world most affected by weather-related loss (i.e., storms, floods, landslides, and heatwaves) in 2000–2019 are in developing Asia (Eckstein et al. 2021). Climate change under a high emissions scenario could impose gross domestic product losses of 24% in the whole of developing Asia, including 35% in India and 32% in Southeast Asia by 2100 (ADB 2023). The region is increasingly a contributor to the global climate crisis with its share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions doubling from 22% in 1990 to 44% in 2019 (ADB 2023). Thus, decisive action is needed.

Governments in the region face a major policy challenge in leading the transition to a low-carbon economy. This policy challenge spans across multiple sectors and includes the transition to renewable energy, electrified transport, energy-efficient construction, nature-based solutions, and a circular economy.1 It requires a concerted policy effort that includes the development of conducive policy frameworks, access to green finance, and the promotion of sustainable technologies (ADB 2017, OECD 2023).

The introduction of sustainable technologies will impact labor markets and companies’ workforce requirements. New green jobs will emerge, and skill requirements of many existing jobs are set to change (Van der Ree 2019) with skills playing an important role in green technology adoption (Hötte 2019). It is estimated that 43% of the workforce in Asia and the Pacific is employed in industries that are either vulnerable2 to climate extremes or the transition to a low-carbon economy (Deloitte 2023). Thus, green workforce development is a central pillar of the transition to a low-carbon economy, and education systems need to be prepared to meet emerging green skill needs