The European Green Deal commits Poland and other EU member states to significant economic change over the coming decades. The new regulations will significantly affect the labour market and individual industries. There is no doubt – green competences will soon gain in importance.
The report of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) entitled “Changes on the labour market resulting from the implementation of the sustainable development concept” is a description of changes that Polish entrepreneurs are facing in relation to the introduction of the so-called European Green Deal. “Changes on the labour market resulting from the implementation of the concept of sustainable development” is a description of the changes awaiting Polish entrepreneurs in connection with the introduction by the European Union (EU) of the so-called European Green Deal. The Deal is a set of climate policy reforms that aim to transform the economies of EU member states into zero-emission, i.e. environmentally neutral. The goals set for the countries in the community are to be achieved by 2050.
A long list of challenges
As a country whose economy relies heavily on coal-fired energy, Poland faces a major challenge of profoundly transforming the way it operates as a whole. The biggest and most important task is first and foremost to reduce the share of hard coal in electricity production – and in 2021 this raw material accounted for as much as 72.4% of electricity generated. Another weak point in the process is the lack of a clear vision for the country’s energy transition. For the moment, energy policy is pinning high hopes on natural gas, but in the long term its future in terms of sustainability is uncertain.
Among Poland’s other weaknesses in the face of adapting to the requirements of the European Green Deal, the report’s authors point to the lack of a transparent district heating policy to ensure adequate development of the heating sector, as well as the inadequacy of the electricity distribution network to meet the coming market challenges. The existing distribution network is not able to accept and transmit the increasing amount of energy coming from renewable sources, which significantly slows down the process of transformation of the energy mix in Poland. Moreover, it is not adapted to local energy management.
PARP also points out in the report aspects such as the lack of regulatory stability, as highlighted by the recent energy crisis and the post-pandemic increase in the share of coal in the country’s fuel mix, and the inefficiency of the administrative system, which does not distribute EU funds earmarked for transformation purposes efficiently enough.
Strengths and opportunities of the Polish energy transition
The authors of the study also point to the high potential for low-carbon transport, which is currently encountering a favourable environment for the development of electromobility, as well as the falling cost of renewable electricity generation. In turn, the potential for exports of clean-technology equipment that can contribute to the low-carbon transformation of the economy is growing.
As the report reads, there is a steady growth of sustainable economic activity and the creation of new jobs – by 2030, the energy transition could create around 300,000 new jobs in RES, nuclear or electromobility. An opportunity for the smooth adaptation of the Polish economy to the requirements of the EU Green Deal is also provided by the Fair Transformation Fund and other EU funds.
What does the future hold for the Polish labour market?
Due to the economic changes resulting from the provisions of the European Green Deal, significant changes are expected to affect the Polish labour market. First and foremost, the authors of the report point to the creation of new green jobs – i.e. those that translate into environmental protection and the fight against climate change. Although there is currently no coherent methodology for counting green jobs, it is certain that they can be classified by industry, strictly defined roles/positions or by recognising environmentally friendly or environmentally beneficial production methods.
The energy transition will undoubtedly have an impact on the emergence of an alternative energy system, with an increased demand for workers with new competences. Changes in the labour market are to be expected in the following sectors: power generation based on traditional energy sources (which will require modernisation), offshore and onshore wind farms, photovoltaics, coal mining, mass transport and trucking, and construction. There will also be a marked decline in the number of jobs in industries responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions.
According to projections by the Confederation of Leviathan, by 2030, the number of employees in Poland’s key industries due to the energy transition will change as follows:
- in the energy sector, mainly in the mining and quarrying, the number of people working will fall by 87,000, or 16%, compared to 2021,
- in manufacturing, the number of employees will increase by just under 50,000, up 1.6% compared to 2021,
- in the construction industry, the number of people employed is expected to stabilise at between 1.2 and 1.25 million…,
- the number of people working in transport and warehousing will increase by almost 116,000 (an increase of almost 11%).
Key competences will gain in importance in the circular economy model. As we read in the PARP report, these competences cover many dimensions. Among them are: knowledge and skills related to green solutions, environmental awareness, pro-environmental attitudes, ability to adapt to new working conditions, as well as soft skills such as abilities or behaviours that support environmental sustainability.
An increasing number of educational offers oriented towards the training of green professional competences will also be offered by Polish universities.