A global economy shifting from traditional fossil fuel-based industries to renewable energy, the need to construct 13,000 buildings a day to meet global demand, and growing labor shortages in the construction and construction sectors. manufacturing sound like a recipe for chaos. However, it also presents growing opportunities to uplift communities in dire need of renewal through inclusive hiring in the booming cleantech sector, which is expected to generate millions of jobs by the end of the decade. .
To help their customers and communities identify these opportunities and encourage fairer pathways to emerging cleantech jobs, the Autodesk Foundation, the philanthropic arm of multinational software company Autodesk, has partnered with organizations such as LinkedIn and Workday to form a cross-industry coalition, Collaborative Just Transition.
Facilitated by social impact firm NationSwell, the Just Transition Collaborative focuses on communities and regions most affected by the shift from traditional fossil fuels to sustainable industries, explained Kate McElligott-Buchanan, practice lead “Future of Work from Autodesk, in a recent article. his company posted on its website.
“The effort is guided by the concept of just transition: the notion that no one is left behind in the transition to a green economy,” McElligott-Buchanan wrote.
Ultimately, the predicted increase in demand for these cleantech jobs will force companies to embrace more inclusive hiring.
New demands for new jobs in a new economy
The International Labor Organization estimates that 24 million jobs could be created by the global cleantech sector by 2030 in a wide range of industries, including renewable energy, of course, but also in sectors such as as finance and transport.
In the United States alone, up to 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030, and in the construction sector there could be up to 200 million unfilled jobs. filled in the world by the end of the decade. The statistics do not take into account new demands for workers in manufacturing and construction sectors involving renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies, where additional investment could create up to 10 million additional jobs worldwide , explained McElligott-Buchanan.
Globally, the construction sector accounts for 39% of energy and process related emissions, 28% of emissions from operational energy consumption and 11% of the production of building materials such as cement, metal and glass.
“It’s a real challenge when you know that to keep pace with the increasing urbanization of the world’s population over the next 30 years, the construction industry will have to construct an average of 13,000 buildings every day to meet the request,” McElligott said. -Buchanan.
Meeting this demand while reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry will require revolutionary changes in construction techniques and materials.
Can the construction industry get closer to net zero?
Three years ago, the World Green Building Council, with the support of 80 organisations, released a report outlining several actions to move the building sector towards a net zero future, through the elimination of carbon emissions. both operational and embodied. These actions could enable the construction sector to reduce embodied carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 and achieve 100% net-zero buildings by 2050.
Manufacturing uses about a third of the world’s energy. Reducing waste and water use, adjusting energy loads and harnessing renewable resources can give factories of the future the potential to be part of a global green economy while reducing costs, said McElligott-Buchanan – but only if industry professionals are willing to take on new and more sustainable approaches to manufacturing.
Autodesk’s business model hinges on the future of industries such as manufacturing, McElligott-Buchanan added. “Construction and manufacturing, two key industries we serve, face challenges in reducing their carbon footprint while meeting growing demand for skilled workers in a dynamic labor market,” she wrote.
Inclusive hiring is needed in the cleantech sector
The confluence of the clean energy shift, rising housing demand and labor shortages provide an opportunity to close gaps in U.S. hiring practices, noted McElligott-Buchanan.
With investment from the Autodesk Foundation, the Just Transition Collaboration examined existing hiring approaches to find ways to promote more inclusive practices in industries that could create thousands of mid-level clean tech jobs . The partnership studied key roles and workforce development practices in industries that generate mid-skilled green jobs such as manufacturing, clean energy (particularly solar power and electric vehicles) as well as environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance.
The Just Transition Collaboration spoke with stakeholders from Indigenous, Appalachian and Midwestern communities who have the most to gain from these new career opportunities, McElligott-Buchanan added. Outreach was also important to understand how job seekers are being impacted by these ongoing economic changes and find new ways the cleantech sector can do its part to accelerate inclusive hiring.
The research has provided additional insights that can impact the Autodesk Foundation’s investment strategy and thereby create meaningful change within the communities Autodesk serves, McElligott-Buchanan said. For example, pathways to mid-skilled sustainability jobs are murky and often have many barriers to entry, such as the need for academic qualifications or expensive degrees. Employers looking to fill such roles tend to seek out and value on-the-job experience; to that end, they often won’t hire entry-level talent who doesn’t have at least five years of experience. Finally, a major barrier to inclusive hiring in these new careers is the lack of understanding that recognizes a potential employee’s life circumstances.
“Reducing barriers to entry, investing in early career talent, and providing employee wellness services all play a part in closing the gap for diverse workers,” said McElligott-Buchanan. “And while that supports green workers, it’s good practice for all workers.”
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