‘Green job’ potential untapped

The birth of a «green economy» will result in the creation of thousands of new jobs but the transition from old to new forms of industry will also result in job losses, according to European training experts who met yesterday for a seminar on the subject in Thessaloniki. According to members of the European Center for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP), «green jobs» are expected to partially offset the loss of old jobs in factories and industrial plants. A spokeperson for the country’s largest labor union GSEE, Christina Theohari, told Kathimerini that jobs in recycling plants, renewable energy units and other such positions would result in an increase of around 1.5 percent in job opportunities. Detailed planning is required, however, if the potential for new jobs is to be exploited, CEDEFOP representative Manfred Tessaring told Kathimerini. According to Tessaring, it could take up to 25 years from now until the necessary infrastructure is in place and the staff are properly trained to operate it. «We might already be too late,» Tessaring said, noting that discussions about the need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels began in the 1970s and has yet to be achieved. The head of Greenpeace’s office in Athens, Nikos Charalambides, struck a similar note. «The only thing that is happening right now is an interesting debate about sustainable development but we have yet to determine what this will entail,» Charalambides said. Some universities have included the principles of the so-called »green economy» in their respective syllabuses but these tend to be the initiatives of individual academics rather than a strategic choice by the institutions, said Nikolaos Mousiopoulos, who heads the engineering faculty of Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. «Green development should constitute the state’s chief goal,» Mousiopoulos said. «The human resources and the technical know-how exists. Now all that remains is for the state to show its commitment to establishing something concrete and long-term,» he added. The government last year passed new legislation for the exploitation of renewable energy that aims to slash a lot of the red tape that has deterred investors in the past.