Edit 17 June 2022
by UIA Secretariat

How to support green sectors and skills? – Lessons learnt from EU front-runner cities

This is a key question for many EU cities already facing climate change consequences on the urban metabolism.

Lessons learnt from EU front-runner cities

How to build a fair and green urban future? This is a key question for many EU cities already facing climate change consequences on the urban metabolism. The UIA report is one of the key outputs of the Just Transitions knowledge activity, that provides insights on how 10 UIA cities are adapting to the fast-changing labour market, finding solutions to support green sectors, jobs and skills.

Forecasting future skills for the green economy      
The impact of the green and digital megatrends poses a main challenge to local labour market planning related to the green economy. UIA projects are addressing skills mismatches and gaps with a comprehensive territorial multi-level approach, putting the “quadruple helix’s” approach into practice and therefore involving all actors of the innovation system (science, policy, industry, and society stakeholders). Eindhoven’s work Passport4Work was conducted with wider city and national level partners, which reflects the territorial scale of the Dutch labour market but also increases the project’s potential sustainability. This macro perspective is also evident in Greater Manchester IGNITION which invested in the analysis of  labour market trends in relation to its retrofitting needs around energy use.

Supporting emerging green sectors 
The transition to climate neutrality is affecting key sectors such as construction, energy and manufacturing, while creating opportunities for climate-friendly businesses to flourish. The latter will have a strong impact on urban planning as they look into nature-based solutions NBS, green and blue infrastructure, and smart energy systems, as well showcased by UIA projects.

The technological innovation achieved by Lappeenranta Urban infra revolution, Finland, which developed a circular alternative to reinforced concrete, was delivered by a public private consortium co-ordinated by the local authority demonstrating highly entrepreneurial and risk-taking attitude. At the other end of Europe, Viladecans Vilawatt, Spain, used a wide portfolio of tools, including public procurement, business incentives and expert assistance, to cultivate the local energy and manufacturing sectors.


Urban authorities’ competences over education and skills supply chain are traditionally very limited. However, encouraging examples of UIA city-led initiatives on skilling and reskilling present a way into positive local-based skill-policies. This is well demonstrated by Cluj-Napoca Cluj Future of Work, Romania, who found an effective way to build local labour market resilience, in the city’s creative and cultural industry sectors, heavily shaped by digital trends.
In Aveiro Aveiro Steam City, Portugal, the city intervened upstream in local schools, with a strong focus on digital skills, that is also aligned to aspects of the city’s future decarbonised economy towards a more digital one.

A roadmap for cities, jobs, and just green transitions          

A 7-stage roadmap to effectively support new skills, jobs and green sectors aligned to the climate neutral economy for cities across Europe emerged from the extensive research work undertaken with UIA cities. Urban authorities across Europe can use it as a starting point for the work on the ground within their local ecosystem to tackle the arising challenges of just and green transitions. 


Skills for a green future  also shows evidence that some of the UIA city projects identified in this study have influenced mainstream Cohesion Policy investments in the 2014-2020 programming period. Looking ahead, some Managing Authorities are exploring ways to encourage the mainstreaming and replication of results of UIA projects in the next programming period. Finland, which had five successful UIA projects is a good example of this. For the new programming period the Managing Authority has established an innovation framework for the largest Finnish cities to encourage collaboration, scaling, and the transfer of effective interventions.

Find out more
This study on the job market renewal - Skills for a green future is part of the wider two-year long knowledge activity that will also consider the urban exclusion risk and the renewal of governance and participative structures. Stay tuned, follow us on social media @UIA_initiative to be the first to find out about next studies and innovative ways to implement #justtransitions.


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