Regional deep dive: Green skills and jobs for a circular economy workforce

Kia kotahi te tū, kia kotahi te hoe

Stand as one and work together

Woman wearing face mask and talking to another woman

RSLG member Pam Ford and RSLG co-chair Awerangi Tamihere

This year, Tāmaki Makaurau has been severely affected by global climate change issues.

The region experienced significant environmental and economic damage following the region’s most severe flooding and cyclone events in recent history. This has intensified the urgency to build climate-resiliency through upskilling of green skills and preparing the region’s workforce for the green transition.

The RSLG has committed to working with industry to support workforce upskilling for green skills and prepare the workforce for the green transition owing to climate change impacts. In the 2022 RWP, the RSLG set out the definition of green jobs as jobs that cannot be performed without extensive knowledge of green skills. Green skills are defined as skills that enable the environmental sustainability of economic activities. Green transition is the process of evolution towards a green economy to support the goals of the Paris Agreement to deliver net-zero emissions to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees.

The RSLG noted the importance of prioritising key industries and sectors where green skills and green jobs must be developed in order to transition towards a net zero carbon economy. The RSLG is working closely with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and Climate Connect Aotearoa to understand climate–related risks and opportunities (R&O) that can help prepare the workforce for the transition. It includes building a better understanding of the changes required for the workforce to respond to climate change, identifying the skills associated with these changes, preparing the workforce to adapt to these changes and attracting appropriately skilled workers to Auckland from outside the region.

This work is guided by Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan. Initial research has commenced on the cost of transitioning to a low carbon economy, with further modelling in progress to better understand the baseline and trajectory of green, circular and regenerative jobs and skills needs in Tāmaki Makaurau. The RSLG will continue connecting with industry on this kaupapa and share insights into industry and workforce needs as they become available.

For more details, see Annex 6: The transition to low carbon - Auckland’s climate change plans

Young people on seats talking in an auditorium

Case study: Te Taiwhana Rangatahi

If Tāmaki Makaurau wants to grow a circular, regenerative, and decarbonised economy, it is important to capture insights for attracting and retaining the future workforce in these green jobs.

The RSLG has worked closely with The Southern Initiative to support the voice of rangatahi via Te Taiwhana Rangatahi (TTR). TTR is a rangatahi- led design and innovation lab based out of Auckland Council. TTR utilises indigenous design and systems thinking to explore and share the perspectives of rangatahi from South Auckland. The RSLG attended workshop engagements with TTR to explore the topic of increasing the number of Māori and Pasifika rangatahi into high-value green career pathways. The TTR group presented their Taiwhanga Rangatahi Report to the RSLG. Insights suggested linking into government and industry processes, including influencing the public and private sector in policy and systems affecting them, and testing how to include rangatahi that would not normally get to take leadership roles. The RSLG is continuing this work with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited. This will help us to ensure we embed equity, te ao Māori, and a strong rangatahi voice into our climate response and understand how we can better support workforce enablement.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited - Climate connect

According to Pam Ford, RSLG member and Director of Investment and Industry at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, recent flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle have emphasised the need for Tāmaki Makaurau to adapt and tackle climate concerns head-on with new technology [1].

Climate Connect Aotearoa is a collaborative innovation hub brought to life by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, the region’s economic and cultural agency. This kaupapa aims to accelerate the uptake of innovative solutions to support Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri: Auckland’s Climate Plan, and its target to decrease emissions 50% by 2030. It also supports the region’s ability to adapt to climate impacts and produce a resilient, low carbon and regenerative economy.

Climate Connect Aotearoa leads challenge programmes across the energy, food, built environment and transport sectors, by forming partnerships with organisations across the climate ecosystem, so that demand-led scalable solutions can be facilitated. For example, the delivery of the first energy challenge has seen the hub join forces with Ara Ake, New Zealand’s future energy centre. Ara Ake was founded in 2020 and its goal is to facilitate the development and commercialisation of low-emissions energy technologies.

Climate Connect Aotearoa also supports building capacity and capability by creating and sharing accessible resources on the Knowledge Hub and He Kete Mātauranga platforms. Recent work has focussed on a just transition, modelling the implications of climate policy for the Auckland region. Climate Connect Aotearoa will use this learning to support and enable organisations and their workforce to prepare for the changes we face.

“We are certain this collaborative approach will help enable a climate- resilient and sustainable future for our region, its economy and its people” [2]

Nick Hill, Chief Executive, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

Climate Connect Aotearoa logo


  1. Project Auckland: Thriving on innovation - NZ Herald [back to text]
  2. Tātaki Auckland Unlimited launches climate innovation hub(external link) — [back to text]