The JRC has published a paper examining the geographic overlaps and connections between energy poverty, digital skills and willingness to participate in adult learning, reskilling and upskilling programmes in the context of coal regions in transition in Europe.
Energy poverty and skills related aspects of the just transition of European coal regions – overlaps and data gaps was presented at the European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy Summer Study 2021, a key European event in the field of energy efficiency.
Some regions in Europe are expected to be hit by the loss of coal sector jobs in the time period up to 2030, in the context of the green and digital transitions affecting labour markets and society as a whole. Reskilling and upskilling the workforce will be key in preventing net job losses. Some of these regions belong to Member States with record high levels of energy poverty. The paper takes a closer look at 35 European regions with coal industry and identifies those most affected by the simultaneous challenge of vulnerability to energy poverty and lower participation level in adult learning. Overall poverty levels are used as an indication of the severity of energy poverty in the regions concerned. In the absence of more energy poverty specific regional information.
Finland, Germany, Spain, Czechia and Slovenia were found to have a good starting point in terms of reskilling through participation in adult learning. This supports the potential to transfer coal workforce to other sectors, in view of possible further job losses in coal industry reliant regions. There is particular space for improvement in terms of increasing participation in adult learning in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. Regions in focus in the latter three EU Member States are also characterised by relatively lower performance in terms of poverty.
Co-author Veronika Czako said:
“We found that the performance of regions in terms of lifelong learning was not tightly connected to unemployment rates. A reason for this could be the longer tradition of adult and vocational training in some countries.”
Financial support mechanisms and policy initiatives launched under the European Green Deal include the Just Transition Fund and the Renovation Wave. In combination with the EU's digital skills and education specific instruments, including the Digital Education Action Plan and the Digital Compass, they can facilitate a just clean energy transition also in regions facing multiple challenges.
Co-author Ingrida Murauskaite-Bull said:
“These programmes will be crucial in supporting coal regions in transition, especially those feeling the impact of many challenges at once: job losses, existing unemployment, issues with reskilling workers, poverty and vulnerability to energy poverty.”
- 15 november 2021