A new report produced by the Resource Innovation Network for European Waste (ReNEW) suggests that 13,000 jobs could be created in Northern Ireland if there was a national transition towards circular economy models.

Job Creation in the Circular Economy analysed a range of Northern Ireland’s key sectors concluding that the circular economy would be beneficial to the employment market in a number of ways. As well as simply creating more work, ReNEW’s analysis looks at the employment impact in terms of geographical dispersion of work, where there is potential for reuse, refurbishment and recycling activities to increase the number of local and regional jobs. 

The research found that many circular economy jobs created would be mid-level (in terms of pay, skills and occupation), a part of the employment market that the study suggests has been in decline in Northern Ireland, and across the UK over the course of the last decade.

The report was produced in conjunction with WRAP and it supports findings from a previous study released by Green Alliance (and WRAP), which found that potentially up to 200,000 circular economy jobs could be created across Great Britain between now and 2030.

Licensed under CC - credit Flickr user: James Cridland
Licensed under CC – credit Flickr user: James Cridland

Rachel Botsman, author of What’s Mine is Yours and globally renowned speaker on the collaborative economy, made the point during her Disruptive Innovation Festival event last year that, “the future of work and jobs is going to look profoundly different”.

Her point was that predicting the specific employment effects from a systemic shift, such as the transition to a circular economy, especially when combined with other large scale trends, including the growth of the sharing economy and developing capabilities of automated technologies isn’t easy.

So, perhaps those viewing the job numbers with a degree of cynicism are fair to do so, but that doesn’t subtract from the overall positive message provided by this research and there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a transition to a circular economy would have a positive impact on jobs.

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