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Unlocking the job creation potential of the renewable energy sector

In recent years, the world has witnessed many developments related to renewable energy as economies and organisations explore new ways to increase energy efficiency and manage consumption prudently – actions that underscore the critical role of energy in driving economic development and business growth.

At the heart of these efforts is the goal to achieve energy sustainability, which also stimulates the interest of young people in finding new innovative solutions to the global energy challenge.

International institutions are also playing an important role in this effort. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have pointed to the potential for employment in these sectors and to support a just transition towards change.

Last year, about 12 million people were employed in the field of renewable energy worldwide, up from 11.5 million in 2019, according to data from the report 2021 of the two institutions.

As is well known, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused delays in business and created disruptions in the supply chain, resulting in different impacts on jobs. But job opportunities have become available in the field of solar and wind energy, which continued to grow and lead in upsurge in global employment in this sector.

Today, there are several countries working to harness solar and wind energy, thereby providing business opportunities to professionals in this key space.

China accounts for a 39 per cent share of renewable energy jobs worldwide in 2020, followed by Brazil, India, the United States, and members of the European Union.

The ability of renewable energy to create jobs and achieve goals is beyond doubt, in the words of Francesco La Camera, Director General of IRENA, who called on governments to raise their level of ambition in these sectors and increase investments in a just and inclusive transition with the aim of reaping the full social and economic benefits offered by these sustainable energy resources.

In this regard, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder believes that the potential of renewable energy to generate decent work is a clear indicator, and we must choose between environmental sustainability on the one hand and job creation on the other, he said.

Achieving renewable energy jobs depends on a country’s ambitious strategies as well as policies to support deployment, empowerment and integration of the sector itself, working to overcome structural barriers in the broader economy and reducing potential imbalances between job losses and gains during the transition.

The global sustainability scenario developed by the International Labour Organisation forecasts the need for new jobs to reach 25 million by 2030. This opens up opportunities for about 5 million workers who will lose their jobs in other fields but will find new openings in these same tasks in new industries.

The ILO also expects the global renewable energy sector to provide employment to 43 million people by 2050.

To achieve these forecasts, governments and private institutions will need to implement industrial policies, support education and training strategies to create a skilled workforce, improve labour market measures along with retraining and rehabilitation, provide social protection to help workers and communities that are dependent on fossil fuels, and enhance public investment strategies to support regional economic development and diversification.

Haider al Lawati

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