Sustainability & CSR
Green job trends in Taiwan
A recent Greenpeace report into Taiwan's green job market reveals an evolving green job landscape marked by shifting salaries, regional variations, and general enthusiasm from young people for the sector while internationally, major economies universally stress the importance of green job creation for a sustainable future.
By Jason Wang and James McCatherin
This year, NIRAS collaborated with Greenpeace and 1111 Job Bank, to create Taiwan’s first Green Jobs Market Report, “Towards Net Zero: Taiwan Green Jobs Report” and a green jobs preferences survey, which provide insights into Taiwan's green job market dynamics and the pivotal role of youth in shaping a sustainable workforce. The following is a summary of the highlights of both initiatives.
Key report findings:
- The industry is seeing steady growth in the overall number of green jobs.
- There is a lack of tracking and prioritization of green jobs in the market as a whole.
- Salaries for green jobs are generally low but have seen moderate increases in recent years.
- Regional discrepancies in green job salaries are evident, with both more green job opportunities and higher average salaries in Northern Taiwan.
- There is significant variation in average salary for green jobs by sector.
Recent climate data reported by the BBC indicates that 2023 is “almost certain” to be the planet’s hottest year on record, with global temperatures for the month of October already recorded at a shocking 1.7˚C above pre-industrial levels. As we begin to live through the more obvious effects of climate change, the sheer urgency of the net zero transition becomes even more apparent. An effective net zero transition will require not only drastic reforms to energy policy, but also large scale economic and social transformation. The global business community has a significant role and responsibility to play in a successful transition to net zero, which will require a variety of shifts in operational modalities.
Economically, the net zero transition is both a challenge and a tremendous opportunity. This transition has and will continue to spur massive investment, drive technological breakthroughs, and create millions of new “green job” opportunities globally. According to the International Labour Organization's definition, “jobs are green when they help reduce negative environmental impact ultimately leading to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies”.
Creating new green jobs and advancing the green economy is a consensus view among major international economies
Internationally, many countries have prioritized the creation of green jobs and the development of related talent as crucial policy directions in promoting green transitions. Initiatives such as the European Union's “Green Deal,” the United States’ "Inflation Reduction Act," and Japan's “GX Plan” aim to advance the energy transition, create more green industries and green jobs, and promote new green economic models.
Creating new green industries and facilitating the transition of workers from high-carbon industries is not an easy task. New industries, new technologies, and new jobs create significant demand for new skills that many current workers do not have. This means that there is a significant global need for ‘upskilling’ and ‘reskilling’ for green jobs. In response, on 12 October 2022, the European Commission officially proposed to designate 2023 as the “European Year of Skills”. This initiative focuses on providing relevant skills training for workers undergoing net zero and digital economy transitions, making it one of the key policy directions for the European Union. Subsequently, in 2023, the Green New Deal Industrial Plan was introduced, with one of its key objectives being "Enhancing Skills."
Current status of Taiwan’s ‘green collar’ talent market
Taiwan’s market has been slower than most European countries in its measurement, policy, and prioritization of green jobs in the net zero transition, making concrete action all the more important.
Taiwan Green Jobs Market Report 2023 summary
The 2023 market report follows an industry based, job based, and sector-based analysis of Taiwan’s green job market to identify key characteristics and trends. Data was provided by 1111 Job Bank and publicly available data from the Taiwanese government.
This report is likely the first of its kind in Taiwan, highlighting a lack of tracking and need for prioritization and concrete action on the development of Taiwan’s green jobs market. Overall, data indicated that although there is much to be done, the outlook for green jobs in Taiwan looks mostly positive. Below is a quick overview of data findings:
- From 2015-2022 an average of 1,995 green jobs were added to Taiwan's economy per year. There was also an 55.7% increase in job postings for green jobs from 2020 to 2022. (See figure 1)
- Salaries for green jobs are generally low but have seen moderate increases in recent years. However, salary increases appear to be outpaced by other major industries (See figure 2)
- Regional discrepancies in green job salaries are evident, with both more green job opportunities and higher average salaries in Northern Taiwan. This is however reflective of the overall job market in Taiwan and does not appear to be specific to green jobs.
- There is also significant variation in average salaries for green jobs by sector with, for example, jobs in the green energy supply chain offering roughly three times the salary of waste management jobs, on average.
Green Jobs Preferences Survey summary
As part of our market analysis, we also conducted a survey to assess employment preferences and expectations for green jobs of 2,000 Taiwanese young professionals and students, aged 18-40. The key findings are as follows:
- Actual salaries for green jobs do not meet young professionals’ expectations.
- 94.30% of young professionals indicated that if a company's culture or business goals incorporate sustainability, it would enhance their willingness to apply.
- 92.55% of young people express a greater willingness to engage in green jobs compared to traditional jobs, when the salary level is comparable.
- 92.90% expect their work to have a positive impact on the world.
- 88.45% of young people are concerned that their past experiences may not align with the requirements of green jobs. This indicates significant need for general education as well as targeted programmes for industry reskilling and upskilling.
- Green job preferences by sector type are diverse amongst young professionals (See Figure 3).
Figure 3: Young professionals’ preferences for green jobs by sector type
Diverse preferences for green jobs amongst young people in Taiwan as indicated by Figure 3 is a promising trend which suggests significant interest in green jobs across many sectors. In combination with above survey data, which indicates clear interest and enthusiasm for green jobs amongst Taiwanese young professionals, youth preferences suggest tremendous potential for green job market growth.
Green job prioritization, upskilling and reskilling are essential components of Taiwan’s net zero transition
The report and survey results give room for cautious optimism for Taiwan’s green job market. Indicators, such as an increase in the number of green jobs, increases in average salaries for green jobs and a clear preference for green and sustainable employment amongst young people across sectors are all signs that there is tremendous potential for Taiwan’s green economy.
However, not enough is being done. As the energy transition continues to be vigorously promoted in Taiwan’s political arena, there remains a significant gap in the ‘green talent’ to get there and insufficient resources for upskilling and reskilling remains a challenge. If Taiwan wants to realize the acceleration of its green job market, and ultimately a successful net zero energy transition, practical and targeted policy and associated resources must be better implemented.
Jason Wang is a Senior Economist for NIRAS, a Danish multi-disciplinary engineering company, focused on energy policy and market forecast consultancy for clients and supporting NIRAS’ efforts in Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) offerings in the APAC region.
James McCatherin is a Consultant working for NIRAS. He supports social & political considerations for Offshore Wind as well as Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) in Taiwan and the APAC region. His background is in International Development and Political Science.