ILO Skills for Green Jobs (2010-2011)


ILO, in cooperation with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), conducted policy applied research into skill needs for greener economies in order to identify skills and occupations that become obsolete under low carbon trajectories and the emerging growth in the ‘green’ regime. The research was based on a number of country studies, with a primary focus on examples of good practice whereby national policies for greening economies have been complemented by identification of skills requirements and efficient skills response strategies.

With its experience in green economies and social development sectors in South Africa, as well as experience in the renewable and alternate energy sectors and climate adaptation and mitigation, OneWorld was contracted (alongside Siyakha Consulting) to conduct the proposed country study to contribute to ILO’s global synthesis report on ‘Skills for Green Jobs’. The objective of the assignment was to identify strategic skills development responses of the country (South Africa) in the light of environmental degradation, climate change and the global call for greening economies.

OneWorld undertook specific tasks in order to determine these skills development needs, including the identification of major challenges and priorities related to climate change and subsequent country-specific greening policies and strategies; the classification of major sectors with ‘greening’ potential and those affected by green stimulus packages and programmes in the framework of crisis response in South Africa; an analysis of how skills response strategies are incorporated into larger ‘greening’ policies, or low carbon development pathways; an assessment of which skills are necessary for new occupations, new skills for greening existing occupations, and retraining needs in sectors undergoing structural changes as a result of policy implementation; and finally, an identification of systems and institutional frameworks that support skills anticipation and assessment are in use to ensure the skills provision correspond to current and future labour market demand for green collar workers both quantitatively and qualitatively and at different levels, i.e. national, sectoral, regional, company, training provider.

Ultimately, the report found that current policy was found to be inconsistent, however, in the future there is potential for policy to direct significant structural changes. It was found that there is a significant skills gap across all sectors and the development of a low carbon economy will undoubtedly be hampered by this. Skill development structures are well developed but are led by market demand, which may lead to green skills requirements either being overlooked, or being provided outside of this framework. This in turn could be detrimental to national training programmes. It was recommended by OneWorld that a cohesive approach is taken to green skills anticipation at a national level which will ensure correct identification of needs, and strong implementation of the pre-existing skills framework. Furthermore, the report also recommended the creation of a National Low Carbon Economy Skills Forum which would oversee training and education in all sectors. At the same time this forum would model future changes in global and domestic green goods and services to ensure that South Africa is well placed to provide goods and services to drive the economy, whilst reducing negative environmental impacts and simultaneously protecting itself from the adverse effects of climate change. It is recommended that this forum be driven from the highest political and government implementation level – the Ministry of Economic Development in the Office of the Sate President.

Project Data

Client: International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop)

Project duration: 2010 - 2011

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