Climate change challenges the labour market but continuous learning offers solutions
How will climate change and the green transition affect working life and the labour market? What skills will employees need in the future? Finland has drawn attention to the future of work during its Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. This topic was examined from the perspective of climate change at a conference held in Helsinki on 30 November 2021.
The participants included researchers, public officials and representatives of labour market organisations and businesses. Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen, Research Professor Tuomo Alasoini from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Head of Unit John Hurley from the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), and Senior Skills and Employability Specialist Olga Strietska-Ilina from the ILO spoke at the event.
Minister of Employment Haatainen: A green transition requires upskilling, training and guidance
A green transition will support structural adjustment of the economy and help to build a carbon-neutral welfare society. In the pursuit of carbon neutrality, the economy will be supported by developing green technology, circular economy and sustainable industries, for example. The aim is to make this transition fair so that climate change mitigation and adaptation will offer new kinds of work and opportunities to build more sustainable business.
New innovations and work require new skills. Minister of Employment Haatainen emphasised the importance of continuous learning in her speech. Employers, employees and society share the responsibility for updating the skills created by the green transition in the labour market.
“All our citizens need to be equipped with skills and competences that help them thrive in the green transition. Continuous, lifelong learning is indeed a right, but also a necessity,” Haatainen said.
As an example from Finland, Haatainen mentioned the reform of continuous learning, which is included in the Government Programme. It has been prepared in cooperation between parliamentary parties and stakeholders.
Measures to ensure a fair and just transition
The participants at the event’s panel discussion shared practical examples of how climate change has already shaped work. The panellists emphasised the importance of continuous learning and inclusiveness. Most of the funding for education is allocated to young people, but it is important to keep those already working involved in the change too.
Two current projects were also presented at the conference. A project by the Nordic and German trade unions aims to ensure a just transition to a carbon neutral society. The project of the Nordic Council of Ministers focuses on the impacts of the green transition from the perspective of vulnerable groups, in particular.
At the end of the event, the European Commission’s recent plans to ensure a fair transition were discussed. In December, the Commission will publish a recommendation to address the social and working life aspects of climate change. It is the EU’s objective to be climate neutral by 2050.
Piritta Jokelainen, Special Adviser to the Minister of Employment, tel. +358 295 047 353
Pauliina Porkka, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. + 358 295 048 278