By Gerard Walker

Future Jobs-Skills-Work Insights 

The Government’s 2020 Budget Statement highlights that the defining challenge of our generation is to ensure that the economy can grow while reducing our carbon emissions impact. Transitioning to a low carbon economy is a main pillar of the Governments Future Jobs Programme. The global transition to energy sustainability, Governments Climate Action measures, new environmental regulations and consumer preferences for more eco-friendly products and services are impacting on job-skills requirements across the economy. 

This is incentivising enterprises towards achieving greater energy efficiency and sustainability goals. Sustainable business growth opportunities in the domestic and export markets can be supported by the development of “green skills” and talent. Several sectors are particularly impacted by this transition although  all sectors are being affected to varying degrees. 


Green Skills impact on specific Sectors Ireland 

Renewable Energies - Wind, Solar, Marine, Geothermal

Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Clean Transportation Systems, Electric Vehicles

Energy Efficient Building Design, Construction

Waste Management, Recovery, Recycling

Bioeconomy – using renewable biological resources to produce food, materials and energy

“Clean Tech”- Energy Efficient Technology, Applications

Retailing- sustainable, eco-friendly products

Sustainable Finance – capital to invest in clean energy

Workers engaged in these sectors will require ongoing updated skills capabilities. Several “green jobs” have emerged such as eco-construction specialist, energy data analyst, sustainable energy engineer, green asset manager, carbon analyst etc.


 Workers currently engaged in high carbon emission businesses may require employment support and retraining to gain alternative employment. Other sectors are also experiencing increasing consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and services and energy efficiency use. All workers will need an awareness of environmental and energy efficiency issues that affect their jobs. 


Senior management leadership is required to drive the adoption of low-carbon technologies, processes and supply chains. It will become increasingly expected for enterprises to measure their economic, social and environmental benefits to shareholders, consumers and society.

Key Green Skills Demand Ireland
Energy and resource efficiency awareness across all occupations
Entrepreneurial skills to meet demand for eco-friendly goods and services 
Eco-design and Innovation skills applied to processes, products, and services
Interdisciplinary Sustainable Engineering, Science and Building skills
Sustainable Supply Chain Management and Logistics skills 
Lean Manufacturing skills - minimising waste, improving productivity
Commercial and Marketing skills to advise consumers on energy efficiency solutions 
Sustainable and Ethical Procurement skills
Enterprise Carbon Monitoring and Accounting skills 
Clean Energy Research & Development skills

The CEDEFOP report (2019) Skills for Green Jobs, highlights that the shift towards new “green jobs” is being met by adding ‘green’ components to existing qualifications/programmes and by the development of new qualifications. Skills development for professional and skilled workers may be met through in-company training, upskilling programmes and education and training provision. CEDEFOP highlight scope for improved co-ordination within countries between skills formation and environmental and employment policies. 
In Ireland there has been a significant ramp up of Higher Education and FET courses developed for the “green economy”.


The challenge is to ensure that these continue to be aligned to the skill needs of enterprise. Enterprise agency programmes, such as Enterprise Ireland’s Green Supports and IDA’s Go Green,  provide funding support to client companies for dedicated training programmes to become more environmentally efficient and sustainable.


The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland offers a range of training  and supports around energy management and standards. Green Tech Skillnet and Lean and Green Skillnets are examples of enterprise-led networks offering training supports for companies to drive their sustainability and competitiveness. 

Main Take-away
The global drive towards a low carbon economy is a long-term structural change impacting on business growth and skills demand in Ireland and across all countries. There is potential for Ireland to build up its “green skills” capability to drive innovative energy efficient and environmentally products and services growth. This will require significant upskilling and reskilling investment to update existing jobs-skills profiles. 


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