February 21, 2023

New briefing identifies circular jobs hotspots in the construction sector

A new briefing note, Jobs and Skills to Drive a Circular Built Environment, pinpoints jobs and skills needed for the circular transition in the construction industry. Based on four circular strategies in the built environment, the publication forecasts labour market shifts and outlines levers to unlock their potential. 

The European Commission declared 2023 The Year of Skills, recognising the importance of upskilling for economic development. The construction sector is essential for the EU economy and represents a major source of employment, accounting for 9% of the EU’s GDP and providing 18 million direct jobs. At the same time, circular construction aimed at reducing the value chain’s environmental impact is a major driver of labour market changes. For example, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that the circular transition will eliminate 22 million linear jobs globally while creating 29 million new opportunities. 

Four circular strategies in the built environment will feed into career profiles in the coming years. These are smart material management, Product-as-a-Service (PaaS) business models, Bio-based material design and manufacturing, and Off-site, modular construction. Most of the jobs needed to drive these circular strategies and business models already exist in the workforce. However, workers may require upskilling to learn new knowledge and skills. 

For some new functions—such as digital modelling or the sourcing of sustainable building materials—there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. In some cases, existing specialists will need to shoulder these tasks. In others, the novel functions will be split across different jobs. Finally, entirely new occupations and educational tracks will be created to harness cutting-edge technologies.  

As the energy transition has shown, the lack of the right skills at the right time can hinder the industry’s growth. The report, therefore, calls for urgent action to upskill and retrain the workforce in the construction sector to achieve a circular built environment in the near future. 

Read the full report here.

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