A greener Europe will not come at the cost of lower employment, but some sectors, Member States or regions might be exposed to negative employment effects in the transition phase, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia told the Green skills in vocational education and training (VET) virtual conference on 6 July.

Moving to a sustainable economy brings both opportunities and unprecedented responsibilities for VET and skills policy and, therefore, for all stakeholders concerned, said Ms Brugia.

She also referred to the extensive work Cedefop has been carrying out for over a decade, studying the links between VET, employment and environmental policies. This includes skills intelligence work: ‘We have invested heavily in methods and tools to understand which skills learners and workers need, recently also by using big data from online job vacancies. Our work on skills for green jobs points to a need for more targeted and timely skills anticipation data and tools.’

‘We already see the first positive effects the greening of the economy has triggered in the demand for jobs and skills affected by the green transition; but we also see recruitment bottlenecks emerging in some areas of the labour market, such as construction,’ added Ms Brugia.

The high-level conference was organised by SGI Europe (Employers entrusted to deliver Sustainability, Growth, Innovation) and the European Federation of Education Employers to kick off the two-year project ‘Green skills in VET’.

In his keynote speech, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit pointed out that the green transition could create 1.2 million jobs in the EU by 2030. But people need to acquire green skills for this to be achieved. He argued that ‘lifelong learning is a must,’ adding that ‘our objective is to train 60% of Europeans every year by 2030.’

Mr Schmit highlighted the Commission’s work with the industry and social partners to create large-scale partnerships for skills.

On the issue of partnerships, Ms Brugia concluded that Cedefop has always advocated an approach engaging all key actors – particularly social partners, education and training institutions and VET providers: ‘I think in this forum everyone will agree that tripartite partnerships are in the DNA of VET and skills policy.’