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Making the green shift work for regions (GSW)

The research project GSW aims to develop a new understanding of how regional labour markets are adapting to the grand challenge of green shift. We will go beyond national and industry forecasts by recognising that responding to this challenge will be region specific processes of adaptation and change.

Labour markets vary between places, operating and performing differently based on their industrial histories and employment and skills profiles. As such, our project seeks to better integrate localities and regions, labour markets and working lives as central elements within green shift, rather than merely as outcomes of this transition.

We will explore the regional skills ecosystem concept in Oil & Gas specialised regions. A region’s skills ecosystem examines how the often place-specific demands of industry and employers interact and evolve over time with supplies of workers, skills and intermediaries.

As the green shift unfolds, the ways in which different regional skills ecosystems adapt and change will vary and have important implications for processes of regional competitiveness and labour market inclusion.

To address the overall objective of developing a new understanding of how regional labour markets are adapting to the challenge of green shift, the research project addresses four research questions:

  1. How can we better conceptualise labour markets within the green shift, overcoming their neglect in sustainability transitions research?
  2. What are the labour market characteristics and processes shaping green shift in the O&G regions, remedying the lack of work examining transition as a geographically uneven labour market process?
  3. How are key actors adapting and responding to the labour market and skills challenges of the green shift, complementing existing macro-level research with an in-depth micro-level understanding of strategies and practices?
  4. What are the implications of labour market adaptation for inclusive transition and working life, addressing a lack of knowledge of how institutional arrangements and socio-political conditions enable and/or constrain inclusion and just transition?


Our project provides a novel international comparative analysis of three Oil & Gas regions at the forefront of the energy transition within different national policy contexts of Norway and Scotland: Rogaland, Trøndelag and Northeast Scotland.

We will combine industry-wide secondary data analysis with in-depth regional case studies of the three regions, to develop a systematic understanding of how local and regional labour markets evolve and adapt with the transition to new low-carbon energy landscapes.

Output and impact

The research is designed with the ambition of informing policy, based on detailed in-depth research leading to the identification of the most effective policy measures for an inclusive and effective labour market transition.

More broadly, we believe the project will address the relative neglect of labour and labour markets within social science research on sustainability transitions.

Research cooperation

GSW is lead by Asbjørn Karlsen at NTNU. In addition to Fafo, the project includes SINTEF and the University of Newcastle (UK). The project is financed by The Norwegian Research Council.

Fafo's Camilla Houeland will participate in across the project but will have particular responsibility for a work package on central actors' responses and strategies to the green shift (research question 3), as well as interviews and a workshop in Rogaland.


Project period

  • Start:
    April 2024
  • End:
    March 2028

Commissioned by