Tuesday, June 25, 2024

IPPR report finds UK gas sector workers could transfer to greener jobs – The Engineer

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The report stated that workers from various branches of the gas industry, such as oil and gas production, gas power stations, gas networks and boilermaking, will need to transition into new jobs as the UK moves to net zero.

According to IPPR’s analysis, this transition could result in minimal career disruptions, but only with the right support from the government.

The report considered ‘green occupations,’ those specific to green industries, and ‘blue occupations,’ climate-compatible occupations that are not specific to green industries but do not entail high carbon emissions.

The IPPR found that 93 per cent of the approximate 115,000 people working in these gas sectors share more than 50 per cent of their existing work tasks – such as inspecting and repairing equipment – with green or blue occupations.

Additionally, it reported that if gas sector workers were only moving into green jobs such as solar PV installation, (non-gas) energy plant managers and environmental scientists, many would likely need more significant retraining and other support.

However, it also reported that the transition would be much less challenging if they moved to some climate-compatible blue occupations such as surveyors, materials engineers, and construction workers.

The report highlighted two main challenges to delivering a fair transition for workers in the gas sector. Firstly, that the slow transition to cleaner energy risks are limiting career options and could lead to abrupt disruptions in employment.

Secondly, that current government policies do not commit enough support to affected workers, regardless of how similar their future career options may be, including a failure to involve trade unions and inadequate training and career guidance.

The IRRP said that the government’s current plans to support workers have been ‘piecemeal’ at best, and identified a need to shift away from abstract rhetoric to concentrate on offering practical career paths for those who might need to switch jobs, along with tailored support for the skills training that they would need.

Specifically, the report called on the government to reform the skills system by introducing an annual £1.1bn Green Training Fund to provide free training to workers in gas sectors, and other industries that are decarbonising, that may need to change occupations.

It also asked the government to provide certainty both to industry and workers by clarifying the role of gas capacity in the future energy mix, and to adopt a fair transition approach involving workers and their unions that is committed to giving workers career guidance and high quality job standards.

In a statement, Joshua Emden, IPPR Senior Research Fellow, said: “Our analysis offers some reassurance that the transition to net zero need not be as disruptive as some people suggest. However, government complacency and the inadequacy of current commitments put a fair and orderly transition at risk.

“Even if future career options require similar skills to current roles, workforce planning that supports workers with retraining, offers careers advice and commits to decent working standards is essential to delivering a genuinely fair transition.

The report, Skills matter: Shaping a just transition for workers in the energy sector, can be read in full here.

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