EGREJOB – Mid-term Conference on Green Jobs Feasibility: Knowledge-sharing event on the initial findings of research and analysis and their implications for policy making
The EGREJOB Mid-term Conference on Green Jobs Feasibility was conducted on 19 May 2015 in Cagliari (Sardegna), within the framework of Project Working Package 2 (Communication). The main objective was to present and discuss the research conducted in the different regions under Working Package 5 (Green Jobs Feasibility) and to share views and perspectives on the initial findings of the analysis. At the same time, by encouraging participation by other stakeholders and key players the event contributed to identification of policy themes and discussion of bottlenecks and opportunities for development of the appropriate skills for boosting the greening of local economies. The conclusions from the Mid-Term Conference will inform the finalisation of Working Package 5 as well as the delivery of Working Package 6 (Training). As a common ground for analysis, at the beginning of the project EGREJOB partners adopted the ILO policy definition of green jobs2 and the rationale of green jobs promotion as a response to environmental and social challenges. Increasing evidence at international level shows that green economy policies can stimulate economic growth, reduce environmental risks, create new jobs and improve human wellbeing. Green jobs are therefore vital for achieving sustainable development: they reduce adverse environmental impacts, are socially just, and provide economic and business innovation opportunities. While understanding the job creation potential of the green economy at local level, the EGREJOB project aims at identifying changes in occupational and skills needs through an integrated analysis of supply and demand in respect of the skills needed for selected environmental goods and services sub-sectors. The project is conducting regional surveys of enterprises (mainly SMEs) in Spain, Italy, Lebanon and Tunisia. The conference included three panel discussions. The first two were dedicated to discussing the relevance and application of the preliminary research findings in the seven EGREJOB regions of analysis. The third panel had the task of identifying key lessons and emerging recommendations for strategic and policy development in the regions. By offering both a technical and policy perspective, the plenary discussions enabled experts to reflect on the training programmes under preparation by paying close attention to the outcomes of the research process.
As the regions are now proceeding with finalising data collection and analysis, the initial findings of desk research and stakeholder consultations can be summarised as follows: In Sardegna (Italy) a filter approach to the available statistics was used to identify those companies whose activities take place in the green sectors, with a particular focus on the following: treatment and disposal of waste, and water treatment; energy saving and retrofitting of buildings; landscape maintenance, care, cleaning and pest control. In addition, companies that had undertaken the ISO 14.001 certification process were included in the sample. Initial findings based on desk research show that, despite the economic crisis suffered by the region, the green economy sectors have performed better than other sectors since 2014. Further data collection will be needed to confirm the skill needs in the selected economic sectors or sub-sectors of analysis and the suggested skills development strategy. In Andalucía (Spain) the main analysis sector is sustainable building. High unemployment has been a challenge since the outbreak of the European financial crisis, touching more men than women in this typically male-dominated sector of the economy. Over the period 2007-2014 employment in the sector declined from 15.2% to 5.2% of jobs in the community. In 2014 the unemployment rate in the construction sector reached 33%. Andalucía has approached about 2,000 companies in the building sector in the region to conduct the employer survey. Based on the responses received, and with the objective of addressing the high rate of youth unemployment experienced in the region over the past decade, the skills development strategy will focus on building entrepreneurial and core transversal skills that could boost creation of new enterprises in the building sector. The regional Public Administration, through its Comprehensive Development Plan for Sustainable Construction and Rehabilitation, provides a supportive framework for these initiatives Lebanon and Tunisia share similar characteristics and constraints. The size of the countries and regions (Akkar and Chouf in Lebanon, and Sousse in Tunisia), along with the high levels of informality in the selected economic sectors and the very limited availability of statistical data, cumulatively impose serious limits on identification and development of value chains, which depend largely on national players or NGOs. In Lebanon, three different value chains have been analysed: sustainable agriculture in Akkar, as a value chain characterized by many small-sized production units and controlled by input suppliers and distributors; ecotourism, mainly concentrated in the Chouf reserve and including hotels, eco-lodges and renewable energy suppliers linked to tourism services; and waste management, focusing first on compost and agricultural waste, then on municipal solid waste, hospital waste in Chouf, and water treatment. Preliminary findings from these sectors reveal the following: a majority of family-run small businesses operating on an informal basis; a general lack of institutional support (with the exception of the tourism sector which is well established in Chouf and could potentially evolve into eco-tourism); and value chains dominated in some sectors by distributors (sustainable agriculture) and by monopolies (waste management). The green economy is in general still considered a niche market in the country and mind-set barriers could represent a concrete obstacle to green business development. Training and skills development should probably be focused on entrepreneurship
development in the agriculture and recycling sectors and on resource efficiency and cleaner production in the eco-tourism sector. Sousse is a relatively wealthy area, more developed than central regions of Tunisia. However national GDP growth experienced a sharp decrease between 2011 and 2014 (a double effect of the “jasmine revolution” and the economic crisis), leading to further unemployment (especially among graduates) and inequality. Based on the results of a nation-wide green jobs assessment report conducted in 2014 3 , partners and researchers have focused their attention on renewable energy (PV panel installation) as the main sector of the survey-based value chain analysis. In addition, stakeholders in Sousse have requested additional research on olive oil liquid waste treatment, the potential of which can be explored, and also on successful practices Tunisia could learn from other EGREJOB countries. In addition, analysis of the plastic waste management value chain is being conducted, showing the need to create an enabling environment for formalization of businesses. Tuscany is one of the largest Italian regions, currently experiencing better employment indicators than the national average, but at the same time being mostly service-oriented (industry accounting for only 16% of total employment). Based on the outcomes of the initial analysis, energy efficiency in buildings was selected as the sector with the highest potential for new job creation. Emerging policy and strategic issues for sustainable initiatives in this sector include the following: the key role of public procurement; the need for adoption of financial mechanisms, incentives and co-funding models to stimulate private and public investment; and use of fiscal and information tools for raising awareness and communicating the mutual benefits of economic, environmental and social goals. With a population of 5.52 million, unemployment in Barcelona province stands at 19,6%, largely affecting young women (45,6% female vs 20,4% male). As in Andalucía, jobs losses were largely due to the economic crisis, the most affected sectors in the region being construction and services. At the same time the preliminary results from a survey by the Chamber of Commerce of Terrassa indicate a growing need for greening of existing occupations related to energy efficiency services (energy saving), reflecting recent changes in the regulatory framework for the region to comply with the “20-20-20” EU climate and energy initiative. The focus of training activities will therefore be on entrepreneurship skills and on core or portable skills that service companies could develop to support the energy efficiency business.