Prioritising employee support in the shift to a net-zero economy

Affected employees need help in transitioning to new job opportunities and adapting to a new industry landscape, says an Australian non-profit.
By: | July 26, 2023

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), a bipartisan, non-profit organisation, has recommended that governments prioritise supporting employees and communities instead of subsidising organisations to achieve optimal employment outcomes during the shift to a net-zero economy.

Authored by Andrew Barker, Senior Economist at the CEDA, the Powering the Transition: The Net-Zero Workforce Challenge report highlighted the need for immediate action to assist affected employees in transitioning to new jobs and retaining opportunities due to the unprecedented scale and speed of this shift. Unlike previous structural changes, this transition involves moving from one industry to an entirely new one, necessitating assistance for employees in finding new job opportunities.

The report forecasted that while the nature of jobs will change across sectors, the total number of jobs is likely to remain stable. Employees in high-emissions industries can retrain to embrace opportunities in the clean energy sector, as jobs in fossil-fuel generation and renewables share similar skill requirements.

However, the report acknowledged challenges for highly specialised roles. It also identified that some high-emissions sectors offer significantly higher wages than average, raising concerns about job options for low and medium-skilled employees in the new clean energy landscape.

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To address these issues, the report presented several recommendations, including updating occupational licenses to reduce barriers to employee mobility while ensuring safety. The Federal Government is urged to expedite reforms of temporary skilled migration to facilitate the entry of highly skilled clean-energy employees. Moreover, effective communications on the transition’s challenges, emissions-cutting policies, and job-market modelling in affected communities are essential to drive successful outcomes, said the CEDA.