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Green jobs: the low carbon economy and labour market disadvantage

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  • Full or part time
    Dr W Eadson
    Dr Richard Crisp
    Dr A While
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Are you interested in the potential to address climate change and unemployment through new environmental jobs? As governments respond to climate emergency there is scope to address labour market disadvantage and unemployment through the creation of new green jobs. Talk of green new deals is moving from theory to practice. This PhD gives students the opportunity to be at the forefront of work on the employment impacts of decarbonisation in a collaborative project with Sheffield City Region.

This fully funded ESRC PhD studentship as part of the ESRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership asks to what extent can urban investment in ’green jobs’ create employment for those facing labour market disadvantage? It will explore how low carbon and environmental (or ‘green’) initiatives impact on urban labour markets, and potential to use this investment to address labour market disadvantage. Conceptually the PhD will develop understanding of employment dimensions of urban just transitions, including the relationship/tensions between just transitions and the notion of ‘inclusive growth’ in urban scholarship and policy.

The UK green economy has a turnover of £44.5 billion, employing over 200,000 people (ONS, 2019). Investment in this sector is growing and calls for greater emphasis on ‘green’ industrial policy have been resurgent in recent years. This PhD proposal starts from the premise that green jobs will be the largest source of new job creation in the UK and internationally over the next 10-20 years and that many of these jobs will be well-suited to supporting pathways to employment. Jobs will also be lost in carbon-intensive sectors and it is important that the employment potential of new green jobs is maximised to offset job losses from decarbonisation and automation.

The PhD is needed because there is no existing research on urban responses for socially just urban environmental transitions regarding skills and employment for those in a position of labour market disadvantage. This research addresses an important gap in existing knowledge, improving theoretical and empirical understanding of urban investment decision-making and its impacts from the perspective of labour market disadvantage.

Using Sheffield City Region as a case study, the PhD will: (1) produce policy-relevant empirical material on understanding employment possibilities of ‘green’ initiatives; (2) provide new conceptualisation of the employment and skills landscape for green jobs; and (3) further develop the concept of just transition, generating new intellectual pathways between the concepts of ‘just transition’ and ‘inclusive growth’.

This is an exciting opportunity to undertake innovative research into the opportunities, challenges and tensions of seeking to design and deliver major new policies and strategies in cities.

Successful applications will have a keen interest in one or more of the following areas: environmentalism, climate policy, economic development, labour markets or employability. Applications are welcomed from the full range of social science disciplines but also from science and engineering if applicants have relevant knowledge and skills. The research will mainly involve qualitative research but familiarity with mixed methods will be useful. These interests might have been developed, for example, through recent undergraduate or Master’s study, or through a related policy or practice role.

As a minimum, applicants should possess a 1st or 2.1 Honours degree. Applicants without Master’s level training that meets the ESRC core social sciences research methods training requirements will receive funding to undertake this prior to commencing their PhD. Applicants should note that there are two possible options for undertaking a White Rose PhD:
+3 programme: funding for a three-year PhD for students that have already met the majority of the core social sciences research methods training requirements.
1+3 programme: a fully funded and integrated one-year Masters programme precedes the three-year PhD to deliver the core social sciences research methods training requirements for students who do not already meet these.
For more information on eligibility for, and terms and conditions of, ESRC studentships, please see

Applicants must email a postgraduate application form
to [Email Address Removed] by 12 noon on 6th March.

Funding Notes

These awards are only available to nationals from the UK and EU and are not open to applicants who are liable to pay academic fees at the international fee rate. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award (paying fees and maintenance at standard Research Council rates). EU applicants are normally eligible for a fees only award, unless they have been resident in the UK for 3 years immediately preceding the date of the award.


Potential applicants are encouraged to contact a member of the proposed supervisory team for an informal discussion prior to completing their application: Dr Will Eadson ([email protected]) or Dr Richard Crisp ([email protected]).

The application form asks for a 1500-word research proposal. You should use this space to outline:
a) why you are interested in doing PhD research on this topic
b) how your skills and experience to date (including your undergraduate and/or masters dissertation, if relevant) prepare you to embark on the project
c) any challenges that you foresee in conducting the research and how you might approach or solve them
Please note, at this stage, you only need to include the names and contact details for referees and do not have to request references.

Selection process
Successful applicants will be required to attend an interview where you will be asked to answer questions about your understanding of the proposed research. All interviews will be in person - Skype will not be available.
Interviews are scheduled for Tuesday 17th March 2019.

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