Can India's manufacturing sector propagate diversified green jobs creation?

Bhavya Aggarwal, HurrainUpdated: Monday, March 28, 2022, 10:25 AM IST
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Opulent ventures of several power distribution MNCs like Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL) , TATA Power Renewables, JSW Energy, etc, having expertise in solar and wind energy, often secure majority of the market traction regarding green jobs thereby overshadowing the efforts of small enterprises and the potential green job market within SMEs | PINTU NAMDEV

While ordering dinner last night, it was exciting to see that new-age tech companies like Zomato make carbon conscious deliveries in Mumbai and Bangalore, i.e, the food would be delivered on bikes with no carbon footprint.

Zomato, akin many other progressive businesses, also aims to switch to 100 percent Electric Vehicles (EVs) by 2030. This led to me thinking about the nature of such environment-friendly or ‘green’ jobs and how ubiquitous they actually are in society.

Customarily our mind identifies green jobs as rather complex jobs primarily enveloping the spectrum of ‘Green Businesses' like, renewable energy, green construction, energy storage, solid waste management, electric vehicles (EV) etc. Opulent ventures of several power distribution MNCs like Adani Green Energy Ltd (AGEL) , TATA Power Renewables, JSW Energy, etc, having expertise in solar and wind energy, often secure majority of the market traction regarding green jobs thereby overshadowing the efforts of small enterprises and the potential green job market within SMEs.

‘Green jobs’ are defined as jobs that reduce the environmental impact of enterprises and economic sectors, ultimately to levels that are sustainable (UNEP et al.,2008). Green jobs at the enterprise level can produce goods or provide services that reduce environmental impact, such as green buildings or clean technology adoption. However, these green outputs (products and services) are not always premised on environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and technologies. Therefore, an important section of green jobs lies in sustainable or clean manufacturing. India, before announcing net zero commitments, had begun preparation towards a green transition by institutionalizing capacity buildings for green jobs, including legal regulations and skill mapping.

The country is accelerating expansion of green jobs in large industries, including automotive, textile, brick manufacturing, power sector, and green buildings. It is gradually expanding its coverage to hard to abate sectors such as steel , thermal power plants and the manufacturing SMEs.

With the capacity to reach $1 trillion by the end of 2025 (IBEF, 2021 ) , India’s manufacturing sector is a massive employment hub, and already employs around 20 percent of the country’s workforce in renewable and green businesses, either directly or indirectly. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, the industrial sector has the highest energy-saving potential upto 60 percent, which can be realized by 2030. This makes the Indian manufacturing sector an ideal platform for unlocking and developing the green jobs ecosystem implementing energy-efficient solutions.

Enabling an ecosystem for the creation, growth, and sustenance of green job opportunities is vital to promote India’s economic growth with a climate positive approach. Promotion of diversified green jobs, beyond the conventional energy and operations sector - for example within compliance, quality assurance, automation and control - can help successfully capitalize on these possibilities.

List of 'possible' green jobs (Deloitte & Dierdoff, Erich.C., et al); 'Greening of the world of work: Implications of O NET@-SOC and new emerging occupations (2009)

Facets of mitigation and adaptation to climate change with accentuated stress that ‘every job can potentially become green’ is adequately pondered on, thus intensifying the transition to green economies which might be very different from the present ones.

Sustenance of green jobs delves on active participation of all social partners (i.e., employer, employee, policy makers or owners etc.) towards identifications of limitations such as -skill gaps, implementation of training facilities and translation of higher skills into higher pay.

Absence of predefined skill sets requirement for green jobs, skill development policies for green transition routinely adopt short-term and serrated approach towards tackling the skill demands.

Greater awareness of climate impacts, as well as their inclusion in skill policy discussions, is required to ensure that skill needs are addressed and apprenticeships are implemented to create and confront the green labor market demands.

To address such challenges, ISC’s Sustainable Manufacturing Livelihoods Program (SMLP), supported by the ClimateWorks is providing factories with the increased talent pool they require to expand their sustainable manufacturing practices and increase their competitiveness in regional and global supply chains, as well as equipping the country's youth withmarketable skills in the green jobs market and increased livelihood opportunities.

Between 2017 and 2030, 18.8 million people will require vocational education of which 7.5 million coming from the existing workforce, while 11.3 million from a completely new pool. India has also established one of the world's largest skills mapping, training, and support systems in order to train 150 million people in newly created green jobs within sectors ranging from low-carbon transportation fuel to e-mobility to large-scale solar power production and a coal phase-out plan. This is majorly done in accordance with national standards through the establishment of a new statutory body in a public-private partnership, known as the Skill Council for Green Jobs (SCGJ).

SCGJ was created by the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) and is promoted by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), Ministry of Power (MoP) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Dr Praveen Saxena, CEO, Skill Council for Green Jobs says “The skilling aspect in the manufacturing sector in India is rather weak and urgently demands linkages between industries and training institutes to incorporate generic solutions towards manpower & skilling.” He accentuates the need of permanent institutes/skilling centers where experts, technicians, workforce, industries and academicians come together to provide “quality green skills”.

For a holistic approach both green jobs upskilling and new job creation is needed. Several of ISC’s initiatives like Environment, Health and Safety Center (EHS+) and SMLP - Case study 8, page number15 work with the objective of providing high-quality, globally-vetted skills and technical expertise in the manufacturing sector.

ISC has been able to build an inclusive, locally skilled ecosystem, with its approach of comprehensively mapping the skilling gaps, designing capacity building modules, training existing SME workers and delivering technical modules to fresh graduates - to fully support greening of industrial clusters.

Furthermore, with its new program "Accelerating Clean and Equitable Manufacturing (ACE)" ISC aims to transform the green-jobs movement, towards more holistic equitable green job ecosystems. ACE will help move the needle, beyond just the current focus of only demand and supply interventions to fully incorporate elements of diversity and inclusion.

ISC’s EHS+ Factory engagement program- Facts, figures, and impacts

‘Greening’ of the jobs is the notion that is routinely exaggerated, however, with the fast approaching climate changes and their subsequent effects on policy & structural adjustments in the global economy, the need for transition of green jobs to just “jobs” is of prime importance.

As the world progresses towards a sustainable ecosystem demand lies in blurring the line between jobs and green jobs. The private sector could play a huge role in establishing a strong foundation for green jobs in India, especially with the booming start-up culture in the country.

Zomato’s carbon-conscious deliveries on bicycles for short distances, are providing employment opportunities to resource poor sections of the society and also avoiding transportation carbon emissions. For green jobs to thrive there needs to be an increased appreciation towards green and sustainable practices, a specific regulatory framework to promote green businesses, and a competitive ecosystem that creates green jobs.

The green jobs are not merely a set of few jobs and skills but rather, a whole new employment theme that needs exploration for the economic growth and the sustainable development of a country to go hand-in-hand. This holds especially true for the developing nations, like India. There are individualistic efforts from different agents i.e., governmental agencies, policy makers, employers and employees but the question of its comprehensiveincorporation amongst various levels of society still needs to be addressed towards creation of Green Economy.

(Bhavya Aggarwal, Hurrain are from Institute for Sustainable Communities)

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