Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Millions of 'green collar' workers needed by 2015: report

ABC News Online, Posted 3 hours 59 minutes ago 

Updated 1 hour 40 minutes ago

A CSIRO report predicts a carbon emissions trading scheme will require three million workers to be trained or re-skilled by 2015.

The report warns the Federal Government that bold steps will be needed to ensure overall employment growth is not endangered by emissions trading.

But it has also found that a scheme could lead to an increase in employment rather than job losses.

The CSIRO modelling issues a stark challenge to the Federal Government as it moves to introduce an emissions trading scheme, with trading due to commence in just 18 months' time.

The executive director of the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, Oona Nielssen, says it is an enormous task.

"We've got a skills shortage now that's the result of market failure," she told ABC Radio's AM.

"Everyone is talking about the current skills shortage and that is because the market has just tootled along the way, we've always tootled along, and right now we're suffering a skills shortage."

The CSIRO report, which has also been prepared for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) says bold steps will be needed to ensure overall employment growth is not endangered by emissions trading.

It says current efforts are clearly insufficient and there will need to be a massive mobilisation of skills and training.

ACF head Don Henry agrees.

"[In] some of the traditional sectors like energy generation use, fuel generation and use, manufacturing - there's opportunities for re-skilling there to help our existing economy clean up," he said.

"Then of course there's new opportunities in our economy in areas like renewable energy, in areas like hybrid cars, fuel efficiency in the automobile sector, and opportunities in fact across our economy."

The report does show that if the Government succeeds in re-skilling the Australian workforce, an emissions trading scheme could lead to an increase in employment by as much as three million jobs by 2025.

But it acknowledges workforce growth will be much slower in so called "dirty" industries.

Mr Henry says Australian industry will have to "turn blue collar to green collar".

"For example, where we've got heavy greenhouse pollution in, for instance, our coal generation sector, that's going to be a slower growth area than renewables," he said.

Greens leader Bob Brown says more Australians will be working to help the environment in the future.

"Aren't workers going to be better off, isn't their health going to be better, isn't their spirit going to be better?" he said.

"I think their incomes will be better and this is the plus side of climate change for those countries who get in early and tackle it properly."

The report says without modernising the workforce there is little chance the Government will meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

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