Net Zero Transitions
RESEARCH

Net Zero Transitions

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31.10.2023 - 05:59

WorkforceNet Zero

The global energy transition will fundamentally change the composition of the Australian economy. This change will be felt sharply in coal mining. Government forecasts predict that Australia’s coal exports will fall by 50-80% in volume over the next two decades. Our research looks at transition outcomes for workers, and how governments can take a tailored approach to responding.

The global energy transition will fundamentally change the composition of the Australian economy.

This change will be felt sharply in coal mining. Government forecasts predict that Australia’s coal exports will fall by 50-80% in volume over the next two decades.

Workers in some occupations will be able to find new jobs easily within their existing occupation and existing location. But other workers will need to relocate, retrain and reskill to find new work.

Understanding these differences will help governments and businesses to better target supports to the individuals and communities that need it most. Critically, it underscores the need for a coordinated and strategic approach.

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We studied a coal mine in New England as a case study.

We used microdata on job advertisements to estimate how long it will take workers to find new jobs if the mine closes based on their occupation and whether they have to relocate within NSW or nationally.

We do this through a two-step methodology:

1. We measure how many workers are employed in the coal mine and break down those workers by occupation and location for the 12 biggest occupations.

2. We consider a scenario where the mine hypothetically closed seven years ago. We then use microdata on job advertisements to see how long it takes those workers to find new jobs based on their occupation and whether they are required to relocate within NSW or nationally to find a new job.

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Our analysis assumes no additional policy interventions to support the transition and no active management of the workforce disruption.

1) If workers do not relocate, 28% of workers in the 12 biggest occupations find a new job within one year, 35% find a new job within two years, 39% find a new job within three years and 43% find a new job within four years. This means that 57% of workers don’t find a new job even after 4 years.

2) If workers are willing to relocate to somewhere else within NSW, 52% find a job in one year, 67% in two years, 85% in three years and 100% in four years.

3) If workers are willing to relocate to anywhere in Australia, 98% find a job in one year and 100% find a job in two years.

Across all scenarios, motor mechanics and metal fabricators have the easiest time finding new jobs, followed by truck drivers, fitters, electricians, shotfirers (explosives) and mechanical engineers. Those who struggle the most find new jobs are miners, mine deputies, production managers, mining engineers and drillers.

These results give us valuable insights into where governments should target supports, based on the individuals occupation, location and skills profile, and what sort of support they will likely need, such retraining and reskilling support, job search support, financial supports to assist in relocating, and income supports during the transition. By better targeting these measures, we are able to direct more resources to those who need it most, while helping to address the skills shortage that many Australian industries are now facing.

Read the full report here.

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