The virtual meeting took place against the background of the importance of building an inclusive workforce able to support and drive the energy transition. This consultation provided a platform for exchange for country and stakeholder experiences on the topics of skilling, education and inclusion to build the workforce of tomorrow. The meeting, co-facilitated by the Governments of the United States of America and South Africa, brought together some 85 participants consisting of government and intergovernmental representatives, as well as private and industry association stakeholders.
The meeting began with a presentation on the Agency’s ongoing work related to just and inclusive energy transitions (see slides here). Open exchanges were then held on leveraging local capacities, skilling and education, and inclusion in support of just and inclusive energy transitions. Relevant policy questions and challenges were raised, such as how to ensure that disruptions in the labor market will be addressed as smoothly as possible in the context of energy transitions; the political economy of such transitions, including who will largely finance the broad initiatives and reforms needed to equip the workforce of a sustainable future; how to balance the need for low-cost energy prices with social and environmental benefits from energy transition projects; and how to make sure that shifts in labor markets will also take into consideration existing barriers to entry and barriers to advance faced by women and underrepresented groups, among others.
Participants discussed respective policies and programs that are being undertaken to address these issues. They showcased several examples on implementing a broad national just transition plan for workers and students to undergo training and educational programs to address the skills needs of the energy transition. Relatedly, pursuing public-private partnerships was highlighted as a suitable approach to train students and professionals in order to meet industry needs for green skills.
From a developing country perspective, it was noted that local value creation will be particularly crucial in ensuring that jobs are sustained and grown locally in the ongoing energy transition. In terms of inclusion, several member countries and stakeholders gave examples of ongoing programs that support women, marginalized groups, as well as communities that are expected to be adversely impacted by an energy transition.
The discussions and points highlighted will inform the Agency’s ongoing and planned work in this space, particularly in light of the upcoming Work Programme for 2024-2025.