Currently no consensus on how to define and measure green jobs

The climate crisis and environmental emergency are potentially the greatest current global challenges. In response, the UK government has set ambitious plans to transform to be a net zero economy by 2050. Green jobs will be at the core of this transition, but for government to put policies in place to support such a fundamental transition they require a robust and reliable evidence base, which at present is lacking.

The reasons for this sparsity of evidence are varied but include:

  • short-term vs long term focus
  • limited funding and resource allocation
  • changing economic and political priorities
  • lack of standardised definitions and metrics
  • complexity and interdisciplinarity nature of green jobs research.

As there is currently no international consensus as how to define and measure a green job, creating a consistent and reliable evidence base is proving challenging. This lack of clarity has limited the breadth and depth of research into green jobs, while making it more challenging to compare the results between studies and across borders. In the UK, these issues have further been compounded due to the lack of large scale, longitudinal and reliable data on which to base such studies.

The benefits of using an administrative data are many

The release of the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) linked to 2011 Census dataset provides the opportunity to make considerable progress in understanding green jobs in England and Wales. The benefit of using administrative data is that the data provided is often timely, presented in a standardised format, and covers large parts of the population.

I will use the dataset to further our understanding of how green jobs can be identified and what their value is. The socio-economic data, added by linking the 2011 Census to ASHE, will make it possible to explore how green jobs affect local communities, economies, and social structures. While the longitudinal nature of the dataset will allow the green job sector to be tracked over time. This will provide an opportunity to assess the stability of green jobs compared to employment in traditional sectors, and to explore their resilience during economic downturns and shifts in environmental policy.

A project designed to achieve impact

The positive impacts of research into green jobs will depend on the ability to translate research findings into actionable policies, strategies, and public engagement. This will require collaboration across government, industry, academia, and civil society. Impact is right at the heart of this fellowship and therefore I have formed a  stakeholder group to oversee the project consisting of academics, policymakers, and representatives from the third sector.

The research from this fellowship will provide a more comprehensive picture of green jobs in England and Wales. I anticipate that policymakers will then be able to use this new evidence to create more effective strategies to foster the growth of sustainable industries and incentivise the creation of green jobs. This will facilitate the just transition from traditional industries that are heavy in carbon emissions.

To further widen the impact of this fellowship, my project will develop computer code to share with the academic and government research community. The code will enable them to be able to identify green jobs more readily within admin dataset. As a result, government analysts will be able to undertake their own analysis to evaluate how different policies impact on the creation of green jobs, which policies are most effective, and how policy can be used to guide sustainable economic growth and job creation.

Damian is part of a cohort of ADR UK Research Fellows using ADR England flagship datasets. Find out more about the fellowships.

Share this: