There is a growing consensus on the benefits of transitioning to a net-zero economy beyond simply controlling global temperature rises. These are often referred to as co-benefits, and a significant one is job creation. Jobs are created through a net-zero transition as a result of changes in technologies and demand, modes of production, macroeconomic conditions, and international trade.
The business case for a decarbonized economy rests on the successful transition of workers from jobs expected to disappear to those that will emerge and grow. This report, led by Smart Prosperity Institute and supported by the Diversity Institute and Future Skills Centre, looks at three different decarbonization scenarios for Canada, and identifies the impacts of each on jobs and skills. Canada’s skilled labour market has an opportunity to benefit from climate action, and preparing the workforce is critical to ensuring benefits from cleaner, more resilient growth in the decades to come.
1) Decarbonization has little impact on employment in the majority of sectors. The growth of fully 75% of jobs in the economy is not directly affected by these decarbonization scenarios because they are in sectors that are neither energy-intensive nor GHG-intensive (e.g., retail, finance, healthcare, education, and services).
2) Non-technical skills are as important as, if not more important than, technical skills in a net-zero green transition. Even where technical skills like operations monitoring and quality control are necessary, the score for importance of non-technical skills is higher. This does not render technical skills inconsequential, but underscores the importance of broad-based skills profiles needed for jobs in a decarbonized future. In fact, technical skills combine with non-technical skills to form “green literacy,” which is essential for the workforce in a low-carbon future.
3) Workers across provinces have different skills development needs as they transition. Those in resource-dependent regions are particularly vulnerable to this transition as resource jobs are likely to decline in all the three decarbonization pathways modelled for this analysis. However, these losses would be offset through job growth in other sectors, implying that one way to support these workers would be to provide skills training that allows workers from the oil and gas sectors to transition to greener occupations.