Caribbean Employment

Are Caribbean workers ready for net zero?

Caribbean jobs

Caribbean nations may need to make more of an effort to ensure workers are adequately skilled for sustainable jobs. (Canva photo)

The Caribbean region is one of the most heavily impacted by climate change, with predictions pointing to more frequent and more intense weather events. Regional leaders and global environmental experts have called for more attention to this matter, pledging policies, investment and other initiatives that will help address the issue.

But, the shift to net-zero and more sustainable ways of life require manpower and human capital that will drive the infrastructure and mechanisms needed to support it. So far, more emphasis has been placed on investment potential rather than on this crucial aspect.

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    Caribbean workers need upskilling

    A pervasive skills gap already impacts the Caribbean region as a whole, complicating and heavily impacting the issues of brain drain, migration and mass hiring of expatriate workers for the highest-paying positions.

    Regional leaders, educators and others have repeatedly called attention to this over the years, and although many governing bodies have introduced initiatives aimed at encouraging more skills development and training, the issue still persists.

    Many Caribbean nations already have a skills gap. (Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels)

    The challenge is amplified by new skills that are in high demand even as they are still being developed in emerging industries including renewable energy and the green economy, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) and the digital economy.

    In Jamaica, for instance, where the government has been making earnest efforts to develop a robotics industry, government officials are strongly encouraging young people to start upskilling now.

    Jamaican Minister of Oversight for Skills and Digital Transformation and Senator Dr. Dana Morris Dixon recently commented on this, noting: “We are currently experiencing unprecedented rapid change around us. Innovations in artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and digital technologies are transforming industries and opening up new opportunities and possibilities.”

    She added: “Industries are being transformed around us. Without upskilling or reskilling, we risk falling behind and becoming obsolete in the face of global advancements.”

     

    Green skills call for extra effort

    The general skills issue the Caribbean faces is similar to the global challenge faced in the green economy, where green skills are in increasingly high demand but there do not seem to be enough adequately skilled workers to match.

    There is a global green skills shortage. (Canva photo)

    A recent study by UK-based energy supplier OVO found that while more than 400,000 workers with green skills are needed to effectively transition to net-zero emissions, only 7% of workers have received relevant upskilling and fewer than one in three people had even heard of the term “green skills.”

    For the Caribbean, this could indicate a need for extra effort to be made to not only close the existing skills gap but also to cultivate the rapidly-transforming green skills that are needed to achieve net zero and ensure the region’s employees can truly benefit from the thousands of job opportunities that will become available alongside the transition to net-zero.

    Short of a strong workforce supplying hundreds of talented employees with green skills, the adoption of renewable energy and other forms of green technology, the Caribbean runs the risk of repeating an all-too-similar trend of importing foreign workers to claim the top, highest-paying positions fueling the new green industries.

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