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Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition in Ireland
The transitions to a low-carbon, more technological Ireland are underway and intertwined. The Government has correctly sought to play its part in mitigating any negative impacts these changes may have on employment.
In 2019, the Government asked NESC to identify steps that could be taken to address the vulnerability arising for workers, firms and sectors in relation to the transition to a low-carbon and more digital and automated future. NESC was also asked to establish a Just Transition Review Group under its working group structures to advise the Climate Action Delivery Board. These requests were elements of the Climate Action Plan and Future Jobs Ireland 2019.
The Council has completed its research and published its advice to Government in the report Addressing Employment Vulnerability as Part of a Just Transition in Ireland.
At the heart of this advice is the Council’s description of a more proactive capacity to manage transition based on enhanced support in three key areas: worker development, enterprise resilience, and funding. Lifelong learning, training and education, effective support for viable but vulnerable companies, and ensuring that funding has the greatest possible local impact must be the priority.
At the same time, it is essential to note that the Council’s work in this area reaffirms the importance of an overarching vision. Our vision for Ireland is to become a resilient, sustainable, thriving net zero economy, environment and society, using innovation and collective preparedness to shape the future we want to achieve.
The clear challenge is to move to a more systematic means of identifying, examining and responding to the opportunities and challenges associated with transition. A just transition approach means embracing change, and it embodies a commitment to a participative process of in-depth exploration with stakeholders and those experiencing the transition and change first-hand.
The Council recognises that there is no blueprint or agreed approach to delivering this wider just transition in practice: a bespoke approach is required. The report provides a summary of the just transition approach in international, EU and Irish policy. It considers how such an approach might be applied in Ireland, providing evidence and support for the call by Government to establish a Just Transition Review Group within NESC.
A concerted, sustained effort will be required to make all of this happen and the Council has identified 12 key recommendations to be taken forward by Government. These recommendations will help to enhance the drive to address the employment vulnerabilities associated with transitions, and help ensure the overall process is a just one.
Background papers to this work can be found at;
- Secretariat Paper No.19: The Transition to a Low-Carbon and More Digital Future: Supporting the Needs of Vulnerable Workers and Enterprises
- Secretariat Paper No.20: Approaches to Transition
- Research Paper No.15: Four Case Studies on Just Transition: Lessons for Ireland
- Research Paper No.16: Modelling the Low-Carbon Transition: International Approaches and Lessons for Ireland
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