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Renewables jobs hit new record last year
Renewables accounted for an estimated 11.5mn jobs worldwide in 2019, up from 11mn the previous year, according to figures compiled by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The agency’s annual jobs review revealed that solar PV led the sector, with some 3.8mn jobs, or one third of the total.
Biofuels followed closely behind at 2.5mn jobs. IRENA notes that many of these roles are situated in the agricultural supply chain in countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Thailand and Malaysia. Meanwhile, the hydropower and wind industries are responsible for almost 2mn and 1.2mn jobs, respectively.
In its separately-released Post-COVID Recovery Agenda, IRENA recently predicted that ambitious stimulus programmes could create up to 5.5mn more jobs in renewables in the next three years, when compared to business as usual.
‘Adopting renewables creates jobs and boosts local income in both developed and developing energy markets,’ said the agency’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera. ‘While today we see a handful of countries in the lead, each country can harness its renewable potential, take steps to leverage local capabilities for industrial development, and train its workers.’
Some 63% of renewables jobs were recorded in Asia last year, cementing the region’s status as a market leader. The report emphasises that comprehensive policies – led by education and training measures, labour market interventions, and supportive industrial policies – are essential for sustaining a global renewables jobs expansion.
In addition, IRENA states that policymakers must prioritise reskilling for workers in the fossil fuels industries who are at risk of losing their jobs. Countries will need more vocational training, stronger curricula and expanded use of remote learning methods to build the skills needed for the energy transition.
There could be 42mn jobs in renewables globally by 2050 if investment in renewables is focused and increased, the agency reports.