In a study released on October 27, John Calvert and Marjorie Griffin Cohen of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver provide a detailed discussion of employment trends in Canada’s energy sector by gender, age, types of occupations, and level of trade union membership. The study finds that, in virtually all areas of energy development, there are skill shortages and the need for additional training. These shortages cover a wide range of different occupations, from engineers and architects to skilled trades, equipment operators, technicians and labourers. Although the renewable energy industry is more labour-intensive than the traditional energy sector, the authors consider its job creation potential as small, given the current policy environment. For example, they characterize job creation in green electricity projects as creating only a small number of permanent jobs, with most job creation in short-term construction jobs, usually in non-union projects. This, they say, is primarily because most new green electricity projects are being built by the private sector. In examining the role of labour unions in policy development, the authors find that their role to date has been largely restricted to dealing with training and other aspects of workforce development. Calvert and Cohen call for a new, comprehensive energy strategy which gives priority to the urgent need to address global warming, and which incorporates a green employment component.
Climate Change and the Canadian Energy Sector: Implications for Labour and Trade Unions is available at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives website at:
For an earlier analysis by Calvert and Cohen, see their chapter (pages 48- 80) in What Do We Know? What Do We Need to Know? The State of Research On Work, Employment and Climate Change in Canada (Final Report)(2010) at the W3 website at:
See commentary on the report on Keith Brooks’ blog at BlueGreen Canada at: http://www.bluegreencanada.ca/node/117