University of Sussex
Jagger, Nicholas S B.pdf (4.27 MB)

Skill requirements of the low carbon transition

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posted on 2023-06-09, 06:24 authored by Nicholas S B Jagger
If the UK is to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change a low-carbon transition (LCT) must be achieved, whereby our energy infrastructure and economy dramatically reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. The thesis argues that the UK construction sector is key to the success of the LCT and proposes some longer-term skills forecasts to assess whether future supply will meet demand. The thesis uses secondary data to examine features of the UK construction sector which make it essential to achieving the LCT by building and installing the low-carbon infrastructure. Existing construction skills forecasting methodologies are reviewed to determine the required properties for the long-term projection. A novel model where underlying activity, technical change and institutional change co-evolve is developed to frame forecasts of the demand and supply of skills necessary for the LCT and identify if any potential skills shortages could disrupt it. To predict long-term UK growth patterns a new approach - Multi-channel Singular Spectral Analysis - is employed, using educational and demographic forecasts and incorporating business cycles. Technical change is explored using four Government produced 2050 pathways, each proposing a differing bundle of technologies to deliver the LCT. The skills demand for each pathway is then forecast and evaluated. Additional forecasts cover other potential demands and the impact of institutions. In particular, the additional impacts of adaptation measures and the possibility of building more dwellings to meet growing demand are evaluated. The results suggest that given appropriate policies and if the impacts of recessions are minimalised, and the number of new construction workers continues to grow, shortages can be avoided. UK skills policy and training, currently based on an employer-led philosophy, is evaluated to determine if it can provide a timely response to the increased demand for construction skills or whether a more proactive approach is required. The thesis argues that, if a more proactive engagement by the construction skills institutions and policy makers is adopted, the supply of skills could be sufficient to achieve the LCT. However, the higher levels of adaptation measures combined with building sufficient dwelling to meet demand could produce destabilising addition demand on the construction sector leading to problems with the LCT.


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Department affiliated with

  • SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit Theses

Qualification level

  • doctoral

Qualification name

  • phd


  • eng


University of Sussex

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