The greening of the European economy, as outlined in the EU 2020 strategy, will have profound effects on the labour market. Yet not enough is being done to make sure people are acquiring the right skills.

Cedefop’s new report Green skills and environmental awareness in vocational education and training shows that difficulties of employers to influence the development of new, green qualifications in VET and the uncertainty surrounding regulations and policies are slowing down developments towards a greener economy. Learning providers report difficulties in understanding the skill needs of employers and employees.

The study identifies main challenges and priorities in eight EU Member States (Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Finland and the UK), and takes as examples nine occupations affected by the green economy. Overall, the report found little evidence that green policies are influencing skills development and hiring policies. There is clearly a need for policy-makers and social partners to raise awareness and take common action.

Several occupations relate directly to the greening of European economies - such as energy auditors, insulation workers, solar panel installers and environmental engineers. But not enough people are aware of such occupations as possible career options. This may be because training routes into some of the occupations are not clear, while others are very new. The report found few examples of projects seeking to steer unemployed workers, disadvantaged groups or young people towards such occupations.

Improving the status of these occupations could make the general public, policy-makers and learning providers more aware of the opportunities created by the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.