In a report published today – Preparing for a Just Transition: Meeting green skill needs for a sustainable steel industry – the extent of the skills gap needed to close for a green transition is revealed.
The report, published as the second week of COP26 begin, is a collaboration between Cardiff University and the trade union Community.
As a major contributor of carbon emissions, the steel industry faces a significant challenge to decarbonise its operations and contribute to COP26 ambitions. Every tonne of steel that is manufactured produces approximately 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
New technologies are emerging for the decarbonisation of the steel industry, with new skill needs developing in parallel. This report draws attention to that skills challenge by drawing on expert comment on the direction of technological innovation for decarbonisation and research on steelworkers’ understandings of the skill needs emerging from the ‘green’ transition.
The findings show that whilst the vast majority of steelworkers agree that a green transition is necessary, many have not been consulted by their employers about this process. Workers are confident in possessing most of the skills needed, particularly in the areas of teamwork, environmental awareness, communication and negotiation, process and system knowledge, basic digital skills, and resilience.
Kate Dearden, Head of Research, Policy and External Relations, says:
“During the first week of COP26 we welcomed the UK becoming a signatory to global commitments for near-zero emission steel production and a just transition based on social dialogue between workers and their unions. Now we need action and to put this commitment to a just transition in practice.
Central to that is equipping the workforce with the skills they need as their industries change and decarbonise. Our report today shows steelworkers know a green economic transition is coming, but fear being left behind or not consulted.
While jobs, tasks and processes are likely to change in the future, the skillset that workers will need is not expected to change extensively. Transversality of skills is key, and workers need to be given more voice over training to feel confident in facing the green transition.
We need government, employers and workers together pulling in the same direction to meet the green skills need and secure a just transition.”
Dr Dean Stroud, Senior Lecturer at the Cardiff University, says:
“We’re delighted to be able to work with Community and contribute to this report on what is probably the most important issue of our time and in doing so identify what is necessary for an inclusive and just transition based on skills and training for a sustainable steel industry”
The report makes a series of recommendations including more investment in training, particularly digital skills that will have increased importance after the green transition, as well as increased government support and more engagement from employers.
To read the full report, click here.