Moving towards a low-emission global economy will create tens of millions of new ‘green jobs’ across sectors including shipping. The renewable energy industry alone is projected to generate 38.2 million jobs by 2030.
The effects of the green transition on employment are also requiring workforces across multiple sectors to reskill and upskill. This, coupled with new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and digitalization, is leading to increased calls for investment in skills to ensure a thriving future workforce in 2030 and beyond.
Decarbonizing shipping will require new skills
Shipping’s green transition is no different. Currently accounting for 3% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, shipping’s decarbonization is expected to bring with it green job creation opportunities across new value chains, with 87% of the infrastructure projected to be land-based.
According to the Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance, the production of green hydrogen – a fuel touted for zero emission shipping – could create 2 million to 4 million green jobs by 2050 in member countries.
There is also a significant need for skills development for green shipping. A seafarer currently trained in marine oil will require additional training as the industry transitions to future alternative fuel technologies, such as hydrogen, ammonia and batteries.
Meeting decarbonization goals, coupled with fast-moving technological developments and ever-increasing smart ship technologies, reflects a general trend towards a ‘higher-skilled’ seafarer and requires increased digital; science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); safety and organizational skills to meet net zero emission demands.
Upskilling linked to speed of decarbonization
The speed and scale of upskilling the global maritime workforce is inevitably linked to the speed of its decarbonization. Within the spirit and framework of the Paris Agreement, there is still much to be decided in terms of global shipping’s low-carbon trajectory – but time is running out.
Governments from the world over are set to meet once again at the United Nations’ shipping arm, the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Here they’ll debate and adopt a revised GHG Strategy – a document that likely commits the world to a more ambitious target for cutting shipping’s carbon and other climate change-producing emissions.
Industry organizations and many member states are calling for total zero emissions by 2050 with strengthened 2030 and 2040 targets to align to the 1.5ºC of the Paris Agreement, reinforced at COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh.
According to analysis commissioned by the Maritime Just Transition Task Force, this would represent a difference of training between 800,000 seafarers by the mid-2030s, in comparison to 350,000 seafarers by the end of the 2050s. This makes a stark difference in terms of training and skills development timelines.
Global policy coherence required at the IMO
The availability of skilled labour and the right education will be essential to shipping’s green transformation. However, in general, coherence between skills and environmental policies remains weak and fragmented in many countries.
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Guy Platten/Secretary-General, International Chamber of Shipping
Stephen Cotton/General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation
Tim Slingsby/Director of Skills and Education, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, Chair, Maritime Charities Group
Margi Van Gogh/Head of Supply Chain and Transport, World Economic Forum
Sturla Henriksen/Special Advisor, Ocean, The United Nations Global Compact