Transition to a Net-Zero Economy in Canada – Decarbonization has little impact on employment in the majority of sectors

This report presents a foresight analysis that was designed to explore multiple plausible futures for the purpose of assisting in the formulation of policy approaches that are resilient in the face of uncertainty. Critically, this report does not seek to forecast the future.2 Forecasting the future is essentially impossible at this time, largely due to the considerable uncertainty over the actual decarbonization pathway that Canada might take in the long run, alongside uncertainties around demographic change, technological change, and global trends. Foresight exercises, such as this one, and the plausible futures they generate, can be especially helpful to policy-makers and stakeholders in the education ecosystem as they seek to develop policies and programs that are robust and resilient.

Key Findings

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).

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.

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.

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. The questions that follow have to do with how these changing jobs across sectors will affect the demand for skills and how policy-makers should respond by creating skills policy that enables clean and resilient growth across a range of net-zero emissions futures.

To answer these questions, this report presents a foresight exercise that models the jobs and skills that would be required in a net-zero economy across a set of distinct futures. There are many ways that Canada could reach net-zero emissions. In this report, we consider three:

  • A lower-carbon-intensity pathway with high rates of fuel switching in favour of end-use electrification
  • A higher-carbon-intensity pathway that relies less on fuel switching and more on carbon capture or direct air capture (DAC) technologies
  • A middle-ground that contains elements of both and a greater reliance on carbon offsets

While all three pathways take us to a net- zero emissions goal by 2050, the key features varying across these scenarios are the stringency of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction policies, market conditions, and technology parameters.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story @  Jobs and skills in the transition to a net-zero economy: A foresight exercise


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