On 14 March 2023, the OECD held a webinar “Bridging the Great Green Divide” for the launch of their report under the same name. The 2023 edition of the Job Creation and Local Economic Development report provides new insights on the impact of the green transition on local labour markets and jobs. It examines the geography of green task and polluting jobs and the effects of the green transition on gender and socioeconomic inequality.
The webinar was opened by Katherine Maguire, head of division, Local Employment, Skills and Innovation at the OECD. She introduced the key findings:
The discussion then turned to a panel of experts, representing various stakeholders: Barbara Kauffmann (Director, Employment and Social Governance, DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission); Debora Revoltella (Director of the Economics Department of the European Investment Bank, acting as Chief Economist) Noelia Cantero (Director, European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning), James Gomme (Director, Equity Action of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development) and Yonnec Polet (Rapporteur, Committee of the Regions, 1st Deputy Mayor of Berchem-Sainte-Agathe).
Ms Kauffmann opened by setting the European context: by 2030, the European Commission has set the goal of having at least 60% of workers in training for one month per year. However, she highlighted, to get there “we have to have better skills intelligence.”
Ms Revoltella, from the European Investment Bank, then underlined that when it comes to investment in Europe, a number of the impediments come from the fact that municipalities lack access to the skills that they need for development. In particular, local municipalities are missing skills in engineering and climate-related profiles.
Mr Gomme went on to give a viewpoint from the 250 multinationals that the WBCSD presents, saying that “there is a critical importance to ensuring that there is skills acquisition as many companies are seeing these skills gaps and are looking for the transferability of skills too.”
Next, Ms Cantero, Director of EARLALL, took the floor. Ms Cantero referenced the results of the RegALE – Regional Capacity Building in Adult Learning Education – report, which state that despite the importance of adult learning policies, too few regional policies pay attention to them. Despite this, “one of the most important ways to meet the green skills needs at the local level is through setting up skills ecosystems.” Ms Cantero pointed towards examples from the EARLALL network, including the use of territorial committees in Brittany, the Competence Forum in Vestland and the Pact for Training in the Municipality of Livorno, Tuscany. These examples of local partnerships are indicative of the creative solutions that regions must find to better anticipate and respond to the coming skills needs related to the green transition. Ms Cantero concluded by saying that we “need to promote the social role of adult learning and change our mindsets so that lifelong learning becomes the norm and not the exception.”
Mr Polet concurred, citing the regional examples in France where local businesses, development agencies and educational providers had collaborated to observe skills needs and to respond to them.
The webinar concluded by thanking all of the participants and an invitation from the OECD to consult their report.