Employment of the future

A lot of work and attention must be devoted to job transitions due to environmental and climate issues. The definition of green jobs needs to be broadened so that certain groups do not lose their jobs and inequality does not develop among social groups. If this is done, it opens up the possibility of getting a more diverse group of people to work in and develop green jobs.

Who loses, who gains?

Today, the emphasis is on creating greener jobs in the construction, transport, technology, and science sectors—which are examples of rather male-dominated jobs. Investments, grants, solutions, and new jobs created as a result of transitions in environmental and climate matters will therefore be more useful to men if nothing is done about employment.

When it comes to employment transition to due to environmental and climate change, it is important to identify at the outset who will benefit from the transition: who will get these new jobs that will be created, who will get the best paid jobs, and who will lose their jobs? As green jobs and their development are rather new, this should give the public sector a certain amount of freedom to focus on industries that have not enjoyed the same level of attention in the debate, such as caretaking.

Caretaking forms a backbone of society. Women are employed in the great majority of caretaking jobs, and this is considered a low-carbon and greenhouse-gas-emissions industry. These are jobs that must not be lost, and the emphasis should therefore be on developing and improving the conditions of these professions even further in connection with the green economy, as more and more people need care and daycare for children enables people to go to work. People in vulnerable jobs could be developed and trained as a result of green transition in cartakeing jobs. However, that development must be based on fairness and just conditions.

Jobs in manufacturing, services, retail and tourism are excepted to be particularly vulnerable to automation. These jobs tend to require little formal education, and men in low-education jobs are more at risk than women of losing their jobs, along with immigrants and young people in temporary low-wage jobs. Immigrants are generally paid almost 8% less than non-immigrants when the main demographic and employment-related factors have been adjusted for in Iceland. Results also show that immigrants generally have lower wages than non-immigrants with the same level of education, and the conditional wage difference is between 11-15%.  

Employers' ideas about which individuals are "desirable" employees for certain jobs matter, and gender, origin and other factors have an impact. A compilation of data from 140 countries included in the United Nations Gender Equality Index indicates that there is a correlation between increased gender equality, economic growth, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. This suggests that the social aspect of the green transition is just as important as the financial aspect for environmental and climate success.

Jobs in repair services - the circular economy

Repair services could become an important industry to combat climate change as well as support the circular economy. The goal of the circular economy is to prevent resources from becoming waste, among other things by improving the lifespan and durability of goods and materials. This could prevent overproduction of goods and unnecessary purchases. These jobs would also support a just transition in environmental and climate matters, as it is important to create diverse jobs to replace those that will be lost as a result of the green transition.

Continuous education and skills training could be useful for such industries, especially for people who have to change careers due to changing government priorities for employment and those who have more difficulty getting secure jobs, such as people with a low level of education, people of foreign origin or other marginalized groups of society. An increased focus on repair services would pay off for consumers in the form of lower expenses.

However, it is necessary to promote increased awareness among the public about the importance of repairing and fixing instead of buying new and increasing the public’s access to repair services at a reasonable price. The European Union has also worked to increase consumers’ right to have their products repaired, improve access to spare parts and consumers’ access to fix their own products.

There is, however, the possibility that repair services could promote traditional gender roles if there is no particular attention to this issue in the promotion of these professions, since women are more likely to repair and adapt their clothing while men often repair cars and all kinds of equipment.

Climate innovation

Both the Icelandic government and the City of Reykjavik are committed to developing and promoting innovation policies in Iceland in response to the new challenges posed by environmental and climate change. In this context, it is important that this trend in innovation, which aims to tackle climate change, takes into account the needs and skill sets of different groups of people, as innovation has so far been a male-dominated sector that looks more to the needs and specialties of men.

Forestry and agriculture

The promotion of forestry, land reclamation and the restoration and conservation of wetlands are some of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, only a fraction of the funding going to regional forestry projects goes directly to women’s economic activities.

Jobs in transportation and construction

Jobs that prioritize sustainability and focus on the development of environmentally friendly solutions are generally attractive to women. Jobs that are more closely associated with men, such as engineering and construction work with this focus, could therefore attract more women to the sectors.

Research also indicates that when the number of women in construction jobs increases, more emphasis is generally placed on environmentally friendly practices.

An analysis was made of two important sectors of employment for the green economy in Canada; transportation and construction. The analysis showed that, in general, there was little information about the participation of women in these professions, and because of this, among other things, companies and institutions had not taken gender and equality perspectives into account when restructuring these industries for the green economy.

It was also found that it was easier for workers already employed in these sectors to be trained in more environmentally friendly practices and changes than to train people who were not used to these jobs or who were new to them.

Women constituted the majority of those who had never worked in these jobs, and the professions had not taken this into account when transforming these jobs.

Repair services - tax incentives

The governments of various European countries have been giving the public tax incentives for repair services. This is to encourage people to stop have things repaired instead of buying new things. In Sweden, VAT on repair services has gone from 25% to 12%, and this includes everything from clothing, bikes, and appliances to larger household appliances. Consumers can also recover half of the cost of labor for repairs when filing a tax return.